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Create a spinning wonder

20 minutens




What did you discover

With your eyes, you see the two drawings one after the other, in quick succession. But because this happens so fast, your brain no longer understands that they are two separate images. Instead, it turns them into one image. A film or video works in exactly the same way. It is actually nothing but a whole series of still images you view in rapid succession. Your brain has no time to realize this, though, so it merges the images together and makes them seem like one moving scene.

Scientists discovered this optical illusion more than 150 years ago, and invented all kinds of devices to demonstrate it. The thaumatrope is one of them. “Thauma” means miracle in Greek. And “trope” comes from trepo, meaning to turn or spin, also in Greek. So: a spinning wonder.

Step 8

Place the lemonade glass upside down on the paper. Draw around the rim with a pencil to make a perfect circle. Move the glass and draw a second circle.

Step 9

Cut the two circles out of the paper.

Step 10

Draw an animal or a person on one of the circles. On the other one, draw its surroundings, such as a forest, a house or the moon. Use lots of bright colours, because then your drawings will be easier to see.

Step 11

Turn the circles upside down. With a pencil, write where the top (T) and bottom (B) of your drawings are.

Step 12

Now coat the back of both circles with glue. Place the skewer on one of the circles, lying exactly across the T and the B but sticking out only on the side marked B. Then stick the other circle on top, with its T exactly on the other T and its B exactly on the other B.

Step 13

Hold the skewer upright between the palms of your hands, with the paper circles at the top. Now rub your hands backwards and forwards as fast as you can, so that the skewer rotates between them and the paper circles spin. Can you see how your two drawings merge to form a single image? You have made your own thaumatrope!