STANDARDS

NGSS: Core Idea: ETS1.C

CCSS: Speaking and Listening: 1

TEKS: 6.2E, 7.2E, 8.2E, TA.2A, TA.4B

Data Analysis

Countdown to 2021!

The innovative design behind one of America’s favorite New Year’s Eve traditions

TIMESSQUAREBALL.NET

THE DROP: At 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, the ball begins a 77-foot, 60-second journey down a pole atop the One Times Square building.

AS YOU READ, THINK ABOUT how technological advances can create new options for artists and designers.

On New Year's Eve, people around the world will tune in to watch the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square (in-person crowds aren’t allowed this year due to the pandemic). The tradition dates to 1907. The ball has been updated many times. Design firm Focus Lighting created the latest version in 2007 for the ball drop’s 100th anniversary.

Previously, the ball was made of triangular crystal panels studded with incandescent bulbs, which emit light from a hot glowing wire. Additional colored bulbs lit the ball from within. Focus used similarly shaped crystals in its design but mounted efficient, long-lasting LED lights on circuit boards behind them. A computer controls the lights to generate intricate, colorful displays.

Patterns cut into the backs of the crystal panels, facing the LEDs, help refract, or bend, light shining out from the ball. That pumps up its sparkle. Mirrored dividers around the LED boards multiply the glittering effect. The new ball wowed viewers, and an identical but bigger version was requested for the following year. The 2008 ball remains on the job today. “Every year at around 11:55,” says principal designer Christine Hope, “I feel that twinge of nervous excitement!” It’s a feeling shared by just about everyone waiting for the ball drop to ring in the new year.

On New Year’s Eve, the ball will drop in New York City’s Times Square. People around the world will tune in to watch. (In-person crowds aren’t allowed this year because of the pandemic.) The tradition started in 1907. Since then, the ball has been updated many times. Design company Focus Lighting created the latest version in 2007. That was the ball drop’s 100th anniversary. 

Before that, the ball was made of triangular crystal panels. They were covered with incandescent bulbs. A hot glowing wire creates light in these bulbs. Colored bulbs lit the ball from inside. Focus also used triangular crystals in its design. But it placed efficient, long-lasting LED lights on circuit boards behind them. A computer controls the lights to produce complex, colorful displays.

Patterns are cut into the backs of the crystal panels, facing the LEDs. When light shines from the ball, the patterns help refract the light, or bend it. That pumps up its sparkle. Mirrors are placed around the LED boards. That multiplies the glittering effect. The new ball wowed viewers. A bigger version just like it was requested for the following year. The 2008 ball remains on the job today. “Every year at around 11:55,” says principal designer Christine Hope, “I feel that twinge of nervous excitement!” So does just about everyone waiting for the ball drop to ring in the new year. 

TIMESSQUAREBALL.NET (TIMES SQUARE); SHUTTERSTOCK.COM (ALL OTHER PHOTOS)

About 1 BILLION people typically watch the broadcast of the ball drop from Times Square.

About 1 BILLION people typically watch the broadcast of the ball drop from Times Square.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

When 342 Americans were surveyed about what they hoped to achieve in 2020, here’s what they said. (Note: Some people chose more than one resolution.)

When 342 Americans were surveyed about what they hoped to achieve in 2020, here’s what they said. (Note: Some people chose more than one resolution.)

SOURCE: STATISTA, 2019

DIG INTO THE DATA: Which resolution was twice as popular as reducing stress?

DIG INTO THE DATA: Which resolution was twice as popular as reducing stress?

videos (1)
Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Lesson Plan (2)
Lesson Plan (2)