Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox every week.      
The Kid Should See This

The praxinoscope

This is a praxinoscope.

It was invented in France in 1877 by Charles-Émile Reynaud. Like the zoetrope, it used a strip of pictures placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder. The praxinoscope improved on the zoetrope by replacing its narrow viewing slits with an inner circle of mirrors, placed so that the reflections of the pictures appeared more or less stationary in position as the wheel turned. Someone looking in the mirrors would therefore see a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, with a brighter and less distorted picture than the zoetrope offered.

There are other lovely examples here, here, and here (paired with a music box from the Museu del Cinema in Girona, Spain). Then watch (or read about) a praxinoscope getting built from a kit!

This award-winning video collection is reader-supported. Become a sustaining member to keep TKSST online and free for everyone, including teachers and parents who use it as a resource to spark learning and curiosity for kids.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

The Mephisto Spiral – Part magic trick, part optical illusion

Rion Nakaya

How to make your own thaumatrope

Rion Nakaya

Freequences, a ‘caketrope’ animation by Alexandre Dubosc

Rion Nakaya

Animated chocolate cake zoetropes by Alexandre Dubosc

Rion Nakaya

G-AAAH, a typewritten tribute to aviator Amy Johnson

Rion Nakaya

Juan Fontanive‘s mechanical, looping flipbooks: Vivarium

Rion Nakaya

Never-Ending Blooms: John Edmark’s spiral geometries

Rion Nakaya

Scott Blake’s Hole Punch Flipbooks

Rion Nakaya

A 3D printed ‘wheel-of-light’ zoetrope that walks and dances

Rion Nakaya