The Show

What do you get when you cross circus skills, science concepts and a couple of wacky characters? You get Fizzical Fizzicks - an interactive, action-packed show about the science of motion! It all began when Greg Tarlin and Kristi Heath created the show for the Ontario Science Centre. Ever since, Fizzical Fizzicks has been playing to enthusiastic audiences across Canada and the USA.

The Circus

This is no dry science lecture! Audiences will be delighted as this dynamic duo performs circus skills like juggling, stilt-walking and unicycling; PLUS dozens of tricks with toys like yo-yos, hula hoops and even a pogo stick. There are a few BIG surprises in store as giant, colourful props get involved in the action.

The Science

Fizzical Fizzicks is based on themes of force and motion. It also touches on other science topics like waves, friction, momentum and air resistance.

The Audience

A big part of the fun comes when teams from the audience are invited to help demonstrate different types of motion with challenges like spinning on the spot, throwing a ball and even skipping. These segments are always tons of fun and emphasize the importance of teamwork. To finish the show, Greg and Kristi perform their thrilling Big Circus Trick. They balance atop towering stilts and a 6-foot unicycle, spin plates on their heads and toss juggling clubs around a volunteer. This finale perfectly blends all three types of motion with amazing circus flair.

It's All About Motion...

Fizzical Fizzicks is a show all about motion.

There are different kinds of motion.
In this show we put them in three categories:

Linear Motion

Linear motion is the most obvious kind of motion. It's when someone or something moves from one place to another.

Walking and driving are examples of linear motion. Whenever something ends up in a different place, there has been "linear motion".

Greg and Kristi use juggling clubs as an example of linear motion. The clubs continually change their location during the routine.


Rotation is another kind of motion. Rotating means spinning: things that are rotating turn around their centres.

Rotating things behave differently from things that are not rotating. Objects that are spinning quickly don't like to tip over. The scientific term for this is "angular momentum". An example of angular momentum in life is a spinning top. Spinning tops don't fall over when they are rotating quickly but they do fall when they slow down. Another example is a bicycle. When you are riding a bicycle quickly the wheels are rotating, so they resist tipping over. Those rotating wheels help you keep your balance on a moving bicycle. When the bicycle comes to a stop the wheels are not rotating any more, so they don't mind tipping over. That's a big part of why it's so much easier to balance on a moving bicycle.

Other forces can act on an object to slow down its rotation. One of these forces is friction. When Greg spins a ball on his finger it eventually slows down because of the friction between the ball and his finger. Once it slows down it loses its "angular momentum" and it falls over. By placing the ball on a spinning drill instead of a finger, there's no friction to slow the ball down and it stays spinning as long as we want it to.

The blue rectangle to the right is rotating (spinning around its centre) but the green circle is NOT rotating. Although it is going in circles, it is not turning around it's own centre. The green circle is turning around the blue rectangle instead. We call this revolving. The earth rotates on its axis once each day, and it revolves around the sun once each year.


We have special terms for objects which move up-and-down or back-and-forth in a regular, repeating motion like a swing on a swing set or a piston in a cylinder. There are different terms to describe these kinds of motion, but in the Fizzical Fizzicks show we use the word "Vibration".

Things that swing (like a swing set or the pendulum on a clock) and the vibrations of a string like a guitar string are usually called oscillations.

Other kinds of back-and-forth motion like a piston moving are often called reciprocating motion. In the diagram on the left the blue rectangle is performing a reciprocating motion (and the green circle is, of course, rotating).

We are surrounded all the time by vibrations, and we don't even realize it. Anything that travels in "waves" is vibrating. That includes water, and even sound. Sound travels through the air in waves which our ears can make sense of.

Greg and Kristi found lots of tricks and toys which somehow involve oscillation or reciprocating motion. Greg combines several different vibration type motions together: he's rocking back-and-forth on a rola-bola, he's using a paddle ball to make a ball go up-and-down, and the ball on his hard hat is also vibrating due to a motor inside it.

All Three At Once

Kristi uses a pogo stick to help demonstrate that the three kinds of motion don't always happen just one at a time. She combines linear motion (moving from place to place), rotation (spinning around), and vibration (going up and down) all at once while hoping that gravity doesn't get the best of her.

The show ends with another trick which uses all three types of motion at once. The juggling clubs demonstrate linear motion from place to place, there are plates rotatingon those hart hats, and both Kristi and Greg are forced to make regular back-and-forth (vibration) movements to stay up in the air (Greg on his unicycle and Kristi on her stilts). Linear motion, rotation and vibration... all at once!

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