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Phenakistoscope Workshop for Middle School Students

Ayden Kuo ’26
Many people think that Art and Science are two unrelated subjects. However, one GNS student managed to find a way to bring these two subjects together.
A phenakistoscope was one of the first forms of animation. It uses still images and presents them in succession at a relatively consistent speed where our brains interpret the series of still images as if they were moving and fill in any gaps to make a smooth motion.
We all know about flip books: where still images can be drawn and presented as if they are animated. How smoothly the animation moves depends on how fast you flip the pages and how many pages are in the flipbook. For the phenakistoscope, the flow comes from how fast you should spin it and how many frames you include. 
Alexis Kuo ’24 decided to take charge and host a phenakistoscope workshop sponsored by The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) for the GNS Middle School hoping to promote the link between art and science.
SCWIST is a non-profit organization that supports women and girls in Science, Engineering and Technology. It offers many different programs such as Girls in Science, MS Infinity, Wonder Women Networking and more! This organization also strives to raise awareness about equality in education, workplaces and in government.
“I first got involved with SCWIST after applying for the Youth Leadership Award with the idea of inspiring those who enjoy art to realize that there is a link between art and science.,” explains Alexis. “I learned about the phenakistoscope during one of our art classes with Ms. Sicotte. I really enjoyed exploring what would happen if I spun the wheel faster or slower. The idea just took off from there. I discovered that animation is just about a series of still images presented in succession. Although not all details are always drawn out, somehow our brains fill in the missing sequences to make the images appear as if they are moving smoothly but this only happens depending on the speed at which the phenakistoscope spins.”
“I was really excited when SCWIST developed a workshop based on my idea and asked whether I would be interested in presenting it to a group of students. My first thought was I wanted our middle school students to have the chance to be a part of it. I am very lucky that Ms. Parks graciously allowed me to do this workshop during her Math Club sessions on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. It is the perfect place to show how art is a part of STEAM.”
The workshops will take place on May 16 and 17, after being postponed by one week as the delivery of the kits were delayed. All supplies and kits will be provided to each student on behalf of SCWIST. If there is greater interest than space, future phenakistoscope workshops may be planned. Interested students should fill out this Sign Up Sheet.

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We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.