STEAM Saturday – Optical Illusion Valentine! (2/10/2024)

Optical Illusion Valentine

Optical Illusion ValentineValentine’s Day is coming up on Tuesday, and we are feeling the love! You and your child can get in on the Valentine’s Day spirit and learn about optical illusions while making a Thaumatrope Valentine!

What in the world is a thaumatrope? It’s a toy made up of a disc with a different picture on each side of the disc. When you spin the toy, the two pictures look like one full picture! This is due to a concept called persistence of vision. Your eye and brain can actually retain a visual impression for about 1/30 of a second. When you swivel the thaumatrope very quickly, your eye is presented with the two images in succession over and over – long enough for your eye and brain to build a complete picture from the two separate images.

The best part about this awesome optical illusion is that it’s incredibly simple to make! All you need is:

  • White computer paper or cardstock
  • Paper or plastic straws
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Scissors

Optical Illusion ValentineOnce you have your supplies handy, start by using a cup or bowl about 4” in diameter to trace 2 circles onto your paper. Cut the circles out. Next, work with your child to choose an image that can be drawn in two parts – one in one circle, and one in the other. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, consider something heart-themed!

Draw your first image in the center of one of the circles. Then place the blank circle over top of the one with the drawing on it so that you can see the drawing through the paper. This will help you create the second part of the drawing so that the images will blend together nicely.

Attach your straw to the back side of one circle with tape. Make two inside/out tape rolls and place them on either side of the straw, then stick your second circle on, making sure that the two images are facing in the same direction.

With your Thaumatrope built, all that’s left to do is spin! Have your child hold the straw portion of the thaumatrope between his/her hands and make a motion like rubbing the hands together. This will cause the thaumatrope to spin. Did the images blend together?

Make these valentines in as many different designs as you can think of! You’ll really impress your loved ones this Valentine’s Day!

Find the full activity and more thaumatrope design ideas from Little Bins for Little Hands HERE.

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together!

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve!

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