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‘Optic Wonder’ – Make Your Own Thaumatrope!

Friday, May 29, 2020
The thaumatrope was at the cutting edge of science in 1824 — and is still a favorite hands-on activity for kids (and adults!) today. This simple historic toy was a precursor to modern animation. Part science, part history and part art, the thaumatrope works on the idea of “persistence of vision,” a flaw in the eye that causes an image to linger momentarily in the brain. Twisting the strings rapidly makes the two images appear to merge into one cohesive picture.

Activity Directions

  1. Download the PDF image by clicking here.
  2. Color the image.
  3. Cut out along the solid lines.
  4. Fold the thaumatrope in half, aligning the tabs.
  5. Use a hole punch to put holes through both tabs.
  6. Thread yarn through the holes and tie securely.
  7. Twist the yarn rapidly back and forth using the tips of your thumb and index finger.
  8. Watch the two images merge into one!