Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tinker Crate: Zoetrope

Hallo! I am excited to share a new Tinker Crate with you today - the Zoetrope!

This is the third crate that the good people at Kiwi Crate sent us to play with (see reviews of the DC motor here and the Biomechanical Hand here). This month's theme was Animation.

Here's what was in this issue of Tinkerzine: some biology (persistence of vision),

some history,

and some devices and activities that illustrate the principles of perception and animation. Here is a thaumatrope - you may have spun these on a stick like this, or on a string as a spinning disk. We even did an electric version of it in the DC motor kit. At the back of the magazine were discs to cut out to make our own thaumatropes.

Here is a flip book -

we cut apart the page full of frames and made one.

Here's a page on using modern technology to make a stop-motion movie. 

Blueprints were included to build a zoetrope, which is a pre-animation machine with slits through which you can view a series of slightly-different frames, which your brain then knits together in a continuous motion.

Here's what came in the kit to build the zoetrope:

There were 7 different "movies", and some blank frames to make our own.

The instructions, as always, were wonderful - clear and easy-to-follow.

Jenna worked with me on this project. She's 9, which is the lower limit of the suggested age range for Tinker Crates. I am happy to say that she loved it and had no difficulty following the instructions to put the zoetrope together.

Here's a shot of the ball-bearing (we were given marbles) mechanism that allowed the zoetrope to spin fast, and smoothly.

We loaded the film strip with frames,

spun the zoetrope,

and peered through the slit to watch the "movie".

We tried out different speeds.

Here are some horrendously grainy videos of the view through the slit. We swopped out the frames to make different movies.

Disclaimer: We were given this crate in exchange for an honest review; all opinions shared here are our own.


  1. Fun! I liked the rope jumping video the best. :)

  2. We got this kit last year and my 9 year old loved it. She still occasionally makes new "movies" for it. She also let her 6 and 4 year old siblings do some of the activities and they had a fun time making the thaumatropes. We recently went to a children's museum which had a stop motion movie area and my kids knew exactly how it worked, they were able to make a film completely on their own, such a great learning activity.

  3. Tinker crates are always nicely put together. My kids would enjoy this one!

  4. I started getting these for my 9th grade daughter and she really enjoys them too!

  5. Shortly after reading this review and based on your previous reviews, I finally took the leap and purchased a three month subscription for my 12 year old son. We have received all three projects at this point, and unfortunately, they all remain unopened. The first was a draw bot, which he has made several times before with other kits and in classes. While the kit does seem to be nicely put together, not having the option to exchange for something that would be a new experience is a bit of a downer. The second project he received was working with magnet power. This was does look like a new experience. I imagine my son will do it this summer when he has more downtime. The final kit, we received today. I was very disappointed, because it is working with polymers, and I have a box full of polymer science stuff leftover from his 8th birthday. We have so much that we certainly don't need another kit. Based on my experience, I recommend people buy individual kits rather than a subscription, so that they can choose what they receive. If they do choose a subscription, opt for a younger child, say 8 years old, who would not have been exposed to these experiences already. An older child who hasn't had a lot of science exposure would probably be fine, too. My son would have loved to have the Zoetrope, the Biomechanical Hand (really his favorite), or the DC motor, like you received and reviewed. Perhaps Tinker Crate could consider a questionaire about the child in hopes of sending them kits that are new and encourage exploration, rather than boxes of unopened stuff in the closet. I do appreciate your reviews on these items, but I thought it was important to add my experience. Thank you.

    1. Curator: I appreciate your comments and I am very glad you decided to share your experience here. Yes, that is the downside of the subscription - not being able to pick and choose when you've already had some experience in that particular field. My 11-year-old has dabbled in a lot of Science stuff and now finds the typical Science-activity pinterest boards beyond boring, to say nothing of the standard Science camps in our local community ed catalogs. Your recommendations regarding younger age recipients and those who are new to the field are spot on.
      Much as Kiwi (Tinker, in this case) Crate remains one of the better crate programs, and their ideas well executed, we're sadly seeing the same kinds of crafts and Science activities making their rounds through the internet and parent forums and the general community. It's not only polymer slime and catapults and lemon-cells that make the world go round; science is way more cool than the same old! I hope he enjoys the magnetism crate! We don't have that one, and it sounds like fun. Tell him to try and build a hovercraft if the magnets are strong enough!


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