DIY STEAM valentines

DIY STEAM Valentines

We talk about using STEAM everyday right?  So how about Valentine’s Day?  These DIY valentines are the perfect blend of Art + Science for the day of love!

I know we focus on getting outside and these are not that at all!  But I always help the kids make their own valentines so I was excited add some science to it.

These spinning little wonders are technically called thaumatropes.  They are optical illusions that have been entertaining people for hundreds of years.  So we are going to make some of our own for Valentine’s Day.

The idea is that you draw part of an image on one side of the paper and part of the image on the other side of the paper.  Then when you spin the paper, it looks like the two images are put together into one.

Wondering what makes this is STEAM? Click the tabs below.

Science – learn about persistence of vision
Tech – build your own low tech optical illusion
Art – lot of creativity and drawing here!

How to Make the Spinning Valentines

What you need:

  • cardstock or other heavy paper
  • drawing stuff (crayons, pencils, etc)
  • hole punch (optional)
  • scissors
  • rubber bands

Putting it together

1. Draw circles on your paper.

2. Punch or cut holes in opposite ends of the circle.  Top and bottom.

valentine circle with holes

3. Now draw part of your image on the front of the circle.  Then draw the rest on the back.

valentine front back with pikachu

**Note**  My daughter made this one and went a little off script by drawing it so the holes were to the side.  You can do that but it is harder because the back image has to be upside down.  So start with one that has the holes top/bottom and then you can branch out.

4. Thread a rubber band through each hole.

thaumatrope valentine with pikachu

5. Rub the rubber band between your fingers to make the valentine spin.  It looks a little something like this although it is hard to catch it on video.

The Science

Now what exactly is happening here?  Well as the thaumatrope spins, your eyes cannot process the single images that fast.

There is this technical sounding theory called “persistence of vision”.  That basically means that after an object has moved, your eye still perceives it in the same spot for a fraction of a second.  So with objects moving very fast like with a thaumatrope, the 2 images look like 1.

Like how a sparkler looks like it leaves a trail or this thaumatrope from the 1825.  Pretty cool huh?

flower thaumatrope 1825

So get a little STEAM-y for Valentine’s Day.  Tag us on Facebook or Instagram to show us what you are making.

valentine templates puzzle heart milk and cookies

Grab our Pre-made Valentines

Although these are super fun to make, time can be an issue.  I’m lookin’ at you last-minute parents!

So grab these free, already-designed templates.  Just cut and add rubber bands.  Plus there are 2 different fun designs. 

Or find it all in one place in our Free Membership ->

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DIY valentines

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