Bike Wheel Zoetrope

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In this activity (posted on April 18, 2011), learners follow the steps to construct a zoetrope, a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures, using a 16" bike wheel. This is a scaled up version of the more common, hand-help mini zoetrope activity (see March 27, 2011 post "Zoetrope (mini)"). This resource includes instructions on how to build the device, suggestions on how to produce good 2D and 3D animations, and a video clip of paper strip animation in the bike wheel zoetrope.

Quick Guide

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 16" bike wheel
  • large roll of 14 inch x .6mm PETG plastic (vacuum forming stock)
  • black duct tape
  • scissors
  • 1/4 inch masking tape
  • sharpie
  • hole punch
  • bolts
  • bike peg
  • long set screw
  • 6 inch paper animation strip
  • drawing tools (markers, pens, pencils)
  • Inserts to hold 12 frames of wire sculpture (optional)
  • wire sculptures (optional)
  • wooden base


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Rotation Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Photography and Film/Video


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Oakland Discovery Center, 2011