By Michael Hartley
If you aren't familiar with the famous spirograph toy, now produced by Hasbro, let me explain. The original spirograph set came in a box with a lot of pens, paper, and cogs.
- First, one of the spirograph cogs was pinned to the cardboard, through the paper.
- Then, another cog was placed next to the first one.
- Finally, a pen is stuck in a hole in the second circle. The pen is used to roll the second circle around the first. As the second circle moves, it traces out a rather pretty pattern - a spirograph pattern!
The movie below demonstrates how a spirograph design is formed.
You can still buy spirographs - but the modern sets are not as good as the original spirograph set. If you are interested in buying a spirograph set, see here for recommendations. But instead of buying one, you can try the free spirograph program on this web page!
I decided to make a java spirograph applet - a kind of digital spirograph - and put it on this website. If you are interested, I've also made a page that explains some spirograph math - why a spirograph game is a good math game for kids. On the other hand, if you just want to make nice spirograph pictures, read on.
Scroll down and you'll see the spirograph applet. After reading these instructions (!!), click the Start button. Then, the spirograph applet window will appear.
- On the left hand side you'll see your spirograph canvas. You draw on it by clicking.
- Click once, and you will have placed the fixed cog, or circle.
- Click again, and you will have place the moving circle.
- Click the third time, and you will have placed the pen. Then, your spirograph pattern will appear!
- Actually, only part of the canvas will be visible. You can use the scrollbars to move around the canvas.
- On the right hand side, you will see controls for changing the sizes of the fixed and moving circles, or the color, or the thickness of the pen.
- You'll also see a thumbnail view of your whole canvas.
- The Help menu has what you'd expect a help menu to have - instructions, and information about the spirograph applet.
- The Edit menu allows you to Undo any mistakes you make, or Redo something you undid, if you change your mind.
- The File menu has a number of options. For example, New clears your spirograph canvas, either with plain white, or plain colored paper, or with a picture.
- You'll also see options to Save your spirograph picture, or Open a picture on your computer hard disk, or Print your picture. These options will only work if you trusted the applet.
- When you loaded this page, you would have been asked Do you want to trust content from Dr Mike's Math Games for Kids.
- If you said Yes, you will be able to use the Save, Open and Print options.
- If you said No, these options will not work. Everything else will work, so you can still practice making spirograph designs, but you won't be able to save and print them. If you want to change your mind and trust the applet, try refreshing (reloading) this page. If that doesn't work bookmark it (add it to your favourites), close down the browser, and open it again.