Follow the Film
Godzilla the movie monster sure looks a lot bigger and scarier when we see him close up, coming at us in slow motion! Slowing down or speeding up the film can make a special effect even more dramatic. The cameras and projectors are complex, but inside you'll find some simple machines at work. Let's take a "ride" on a frame of film to see how the spools and spindles twist and turn.
Curious for an answer? Look Behind the Scenes.
- You will need: spools of all sizes. (Thread and ribbon have great spools.) Empty spools are best, or fasten the thread with masking tape so you won't end up with a tangled mess. You may want to explore using plastic bottle and spray can lids as spools, too. You will also need some scrap lumber, nails, a hammer, an adult to help with the hammering, and a handful of different-sized rubber bands. Place the spools on the surface of the board in a pattern you want to explore.
- Insert a nail into the center of the spool or cap and have your adult help you drive the nail into the board. (Old phone books placed under the lumber will protect the table and absorb some of the sound. Your neighbors will like that!) The nail should go in far enough to hold the spool in place. Plastic caps may need to be turned back and forth until they turn easily.
- Now you are ready for the twists and turns. Just loop a rubber band around two or more spools. When you turn one spool, what happens to the others? Does it matter which one you turn?
- Try putting a twist in the rubber band. Or, use a combination of large and small spools. How does that affect what happens?
- Design a challenge for a friend. Tape an action figure or small toy to the top of one spool. Be sure the spool can still turn. Connect all the spools together in a system you design. Pick the spool you will use to drive the system. Can your friend predict which way the figure will turn? Will it turn faster or slower than the driving spool?
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