What is Newton’s Disc?
Isaac Newton is famous for his ideas about physics and motion. But did you know that he also did a lot of experiments with light? In his experiments, he discovered many new things about light.
Newton’s disc is a spinning disc that has all 7 colors of the rainbow. These colors are the colors that make up white light. When the disc spins very fast, the colors overlap in our vision, and our eyes perceive the colors as white.
With this printable, you can make Newton’s disc at home and understand how light works better.
Materials needed to make Newton's Disc :
- coloring materials (ex. crayons, markers)
- this printable
The printable has instructions on how to create and use Newton’s disc. In place of a string, you can also use a stick or a pencil to make the disc spin. Punch a hole in the middle of the disc and slide it into the stick.
What you’ll love about this printable:
- allows kids to integrate science with arts and crafts
- leads the way to greater learning of the concepts of light, color, and vision
- For older kids: provides a simple, kid-friendly demonstration of how light works
- For young kids: improves their dexterity, eye-hand coordination; teaches them colors and shapes
How did Newton discover that white light is composed of many colors?
Newton made a hole in a piece of wood where a thin ray of white light could pass through. He let this ray of light pass through a prism (a triangular piece of glass) onto a white sheet of paper. After passing through the prism, the white light split into 7 colors – ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Newton then used a second prism to turn the refracted light (with seven colors) into white light again. Newton concluded that white light is composed of 7 colors.
Before Newton’s experiment, people thought that colors appear when white light becomes “contaminated” after passing through a material. Newton’s experiment proved that light does not simply reveal an object’s color, but that it is actually light that gives color to an object. With his experiments, Newton discovered that an object’s color depends on how much light it absorbs or reflects.