CHARLESTON, W.Va.--Dr. Michael Adelman pulled out an umbrella and, watching him, 8-year-old Destiny Belcher turned to her friend.
"He's going to make it rain," she said. "I think it's going to rain in here."
Lydia Comer, also 8 and a third grader at Holz Elementary School, looked up at the ceiling of the school's all-purpose room, where they were seated with a crowd of their classmates, and agreed.
"It's going to rain," she squealed.
Lydia and Destiny weren't the only ones who took the umbrella as a sign of rain to come -- indoors. Around the auditorium students were looking to the ceiling; a few raised their sweatshirts' hoods to cover their heads as a precautionary measure.
Given the situation, it wasn't as absurd an idea as it might seem: after 30 minutes in the all-purpose room with Adelman, a magician and ventriloquist, the students were almost thoroughly convinced the magic was real.
He didn't make it rain in Holz Elementary that afternoon, but he did do a number on that umbrella -- it jumped from place to place, turned into a handkerchief and a flag and then back into an umbrella. The crowd of elementary school students squealed with delight at each twist and turn.
Adelman has a varied resume: he's a magician and ventriloquist as well as a surgeon and the president of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
He's also the star and lead developer of the Abracadabra television series, a children's show that airs on West Virginia Public Broadcasting every day at 8:30 a.m. Through that show, now in its third season, Adelman and his team use magic tricks, comedy and music to teach children about health and nutrition, science and safety, as part of the school's Healthy Children's Initiative.
Next, the team is going to start a more permanent community program in public schools around the state, in an effort to be a more steady presence in some schools and better measure outcomes.
Abracadabra started as a local access show, before West Virginia Public Broadcasting approached Adelman and the School of Osteopathic Medicine about taking it statewide. The idea is to use Adelman's tricks, his magic and his puppet Joey as a smokescreen, so kids don't even realize that they're watching an educational program.