STEM: Thaumatrope optical illusion with Liz at Toowong Library - video transcript

This page is a transcript of the 'STEM: Thaumatrope optical illusion with Liz at Toowong Library' video on Brisbane City Council's YouTube channel. The video is nearly five minutes long.


>> LIZ:  Hi everyone. My name is Liz and I’m from Toowong Library. One of our favourite things to do is have you guys here enjoying lots of lovely activities with us, but because we can’t have you in the library at the moment, we thought we’d bring some of these activities to you at home.

So what you have spinning in front of you at the moment is something called a thaumatrope. And these were toys that were very popular over a hundred years ago and are actually really easy to make.  And one of the things I love about them is that it reminds me of a favourite book series of ours which is ‘Captain Underpants’. So maybe there are few Captain Underpants fans out there and if you know the series you know the two main characters George and Harold create their own comic books. In each book they have a Flip-O-Rama segment. And this is very similar to the activity we have because it’s a very simple form of animation, so here’s a flip-o-rama page and it’s difficult to see on the screen but if you’ve got it in real life you can see that the two images when flipped together quickly create a sequence of movement.

Our thaumatrope is a bit different in that we do have two images, on one side I have a little fish and on the other side I have a big fish with its mouth wide open ready to gobble that up. And as I spin those two images together because of the way our eyes see those images and something that’s called persistence of vision it creates one image where you should be able to see the little fish being eaten up by that big fish.

So, I’m hoping that you might like to try this at home. And what you’ll need you’ll probably find pretty easily at home. We need some paper or card; we’ve used some light card and we need to draw 2 circles of the same size. So I used a cup, you could use the lid of a jar, if you’ve finished a jar of vegemite recently that’s about a good size for this. You’ll need a pencil so you can draw around your cup to make the circles. I used a sharpie or a felt pen to make my image a bit stronger and clearer. You’ll need some glue, scissors, some sticky tape can be helpful and if you’d like to colour in you can have some lovely colours.

Once you’ve cut your shapes out, you’ll need to draw your pictures. Have a think about how those two pictures will go together. On my first one I put my fish, little fish right in the middle which made me realise that when I made my big fish I needed his open mouth to really fill up that space so that when they move together that little fish is right inside its mouth.

I wonder if you could think of other simple drawings that you could do, I’ve seen some that have been a bird on one side and a cage on the other, or a fish and a bowl. You might like to try this and show us how you’ve done it.

The other thing you’re going to need is something that the pieces of paper can attach to that you can then roll in between your fingers. When I was looking around here at the library, I found a paint brush that weren’t using but you could just as easily use a pencil or a pen or a straw. Something that you can roll together between your hands really easily.

Once you’ve put your images on the paper you need to stick one side to your straw and then when you place your other side on top put some glue around the edges and then stick that down so that they stick together really well. And then it’s time to see how it works. So if you start off slowly and get quicker and just look at your image straight on you start to see it as one picture.

So that’s a thaumatrope using persistence of vision which allows us to see two images as one. Hope you’ve had fun! We look seeing you back in the libraries very soon.

Last updated: 2 July 2021
Topics: library

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