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In this activity, learners will make a thaumatrope, an old-fashioned optical illusion that dates back to the 1820s. The two images on either side of a cardstock circle will appear to merge when spun rapidly due to a scientific principle called persistence of vision. Activity includes step-by-step instructions, a explanation of the science behind the activity, and templates of premade circles. A Spanish version of the activity is also available.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Perception

Informal Categories

  • Toys


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Access Rights:

  • Free access



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