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Making Physics Magical

It's true: Frostburg State University in Maryland offers a course called "The Science Of Harry Potter" and the class is kind of like the movie: funny, scary and just a little bit creepy. CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith reports for The Early Show's Study Hall.

No plans yet for a graduate Harry Potter course.

At a small Maryland school that looks nothing like Hogwart's, a man who looks nothing like a professor is on his way to class.

"I am considered strange," says Dr. George Plitnick, who teaches a physical science course based on the Harry Potter series. He likes to dress the part of a wizard.

Actually, he looks more like Kris Kringle on a diet, but you get the idea.

To avoid looking ridiculous in his robes, he says he tries to have the costumes close to the classroom.

But this is serious business. Dr. Plitnick came up with the course as a way to make science more palatable and that's not easy.

He says, "You know the math skills are terrible, English skills are not good, they have no interest in science, that's the kind of society we live in."

So now, once a week, fifteen of Frostburg's best and brightest ponder the line between Hollywood fiction and scientific fact. For example, can objects, like a car, really be levitated?

Actually, it is possible with a petri dish and little liquid nitrogen. OK, it's not a car.

The teacher might be a bit eccentric, but the kids say they're impressed.

Becca Huber says, "It's sort of strange, but with the flow of the class it works well."

Samantha Parsons adds, "The things in Harry Potter, they're putting them together like how it could be scientifically possible, it's not just magic, but how it could be possible in our world and that is very fascinating even if it does involve nasty little things like physics."

Mike Dorsey says Dr. Plitnick can be a little crazy at times, but notes, "I think he's really serious about it so it's not just a blow-off class."

The class is so popular that there's a waiting list. Even though some parents had to be convinced.

"There was definitely a lot of skepticism to it," says Dorsey.

Dr. Plitnick doesn't wear his outfit every day and he can't really do magic, but he can keep kids' attention and that may be the toughest trick of all.

He says, "If they can understand the magic of science then I've accomplished something, by whatever means."

He says he has only heard positive things. As for him being called crazy. He says laughing "Well, they all know that."