Science Toy Magic might be one of the most original stores in all of Fort Collins. This establishment is all about playing with the Toys! Toys like the floating top, revolving globes and boomerangs. They even offer a chance to shoot an airblast 20 some odd feet. There are so many toys to experience that we don't have enough room to list them all. Over 80 toys were sold at Science Toy Magic for the very first time ever in the United States! In this week's installment of community connections we had the privilege of speaking with Matt Hannifin, owner of Science Toy Magic.
What do you love about Fort Collins?
I like how considerate and thoughtful people are. I like the easy-going, good-humored way people take things on in this town, making it a nice place to live. There is a very nice quality of life here. I’m very impressed how people do things in Fort Collins, thinking about the next generation.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Fort Collins?
I very much enjoy nature and doing things like snowshoeing and hiking in the mountains. I enjoy the great restaurants around town and as silly as it sounds I like the things that are available at the libraries. Also, cultural events like the ones available at Colorado State University. And the Little Shop of Physics Open House in February.
What makes Science Toy Magic Unique?
Specific things that are unique is ¼ of the toys you see in here, this is where it was first sold in the United States. Even though you are in a toy store the size of the closet, we were the first to sell, first to sell, first to sell (pointing at different incredible toys). 80 different things in the country first in the United Sates or the entire World! When people come here they get to see me demonstrate all the toys, explain the science behind them, and it is a very dramatic demonstration, so a lot of people come here just for the show.
What is the story behind how Science Toy Magic came to be in Fort Collins?
I made 48 out of town trips when I decided to move from Santé Fe, NM, to find the best place to start my business. This little closet that you’re in, by the way we have more toys in here than we do square feet, but this place was for rent and when I saw this spot, being right in the center of tourism in Fort Collins, I loved it because to me it is so much fun to meet people from all over the world and to make them feel comfortable in a new place. Picking Fort Collins was one of the smartest things I ever did. I love this town.
Tell us about yourself...
I started throwing boomerangs about 48 years ago, and I started handcrafting boomerangs in the United States and Australia, and I am a dual Australian and US citizen. I added on the science toys as an afterthought in the year 2001, and as you can see the boomerangs are now a very small portion in comparison to all the other toys in the store. These toys took off and because I get to demonstrate and explain all the science behind them that sort of gives me a jazz and thrill to watch people react. Plus, I get to sneak in a science lesson while they aren’t looking.
I also used to teach physics and Chemistry at the Native American Preperatory School for indigenous people in the United States. Many of the toys you see here came about from my teaching experience, things I used in the classroom to demonstrate principles of science to make those things more understandable.
When I used to live in Santa Fe, NM, another thing that happened to me was the director of the NASA APPEL program selected me to present at the NASA Masters Forum, which all of the heads of NASA gather at. The presentations at the forum are meant to enhance innovation and creativity. I specifically was there to show how science toys can be used as communication aids in problem solving in the aerospace industry.
What do you want visitors to experience at Science Toy Magic?
I would like for people to come here and have fun, enjoy a new learning experience, and to have a safe place to discuss ideas. I would like to enhance the development of younger people so they can have the same opportunities that I did. This is meant to inspire younger people and give them a foundation they can build their education on. I do try to sneak by some principles of science while they are here in a somewhat humorous but very exciting way.
Science Toy Magic
Address: 11 Old Town Sq., Suite 119
Phone: (970) 484-2377
Hours of Operation: Wed - Sat 10am - 6pm