Can You Say Thaumatrope?

Grade 7/8:  Animation Part 1 (of 3)

From visual puns (with a clay project in between) we moved on to exploring animation.  We started with a basic example:  the thaumatrope.  This was an optical toy that was popular in the 1820’s, and it works on the principle of persistence.  That is our eyes’ ability to retain an image for a fraction of a second after the object is gone.  When you see a quick succession of  two images in flashes, the eyes perceive it as a single image.  A common example was an image of a bird on a perch on one side, and an empty birdcage on the other.  When the thaumatrope spins, the resulting images are combined:  you see a bird perching in the cage.

We came up with a list at the board of possible ideas that would suit this simple principle.  I had prepared circles of card stock with elastic bands to accompany. If needed, they could work out their idea on scrap paper.   It is helpful when the two images are in the same location so the eye doesn’t have to jump too much.  To register the images, they  used the light table or the windows.  What is most important is that one image is drawn upside down in relation to the other.  That is because the spinning motion is end over end.

Once you have that concept, it is pretty simple – it was nice to have a project complete in one session.

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Fall 2013 / Parliament Oak School

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