Life Skills

Cadette Space Science Researcher Badge Activity


Construct a Spinner

Discover the dynamic qualities of light by creating a spinner called a Newton Disk.

Activity Details

Time needed: 30 minutes plus 5 minutes to prep and 5 minutes to clean up

Materials needed:

  • Colored pencils: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • CD or DVD as template
  • Glue stick
  • 1 piece of white paper
  • 1 piece of cardboard larger than the CD or DCD
  • 3 inches of string
  • Notebook

Purpose: Discover the dynamic qualities of light by creating a spinner called a Newton Disk.

Setup: When you study space science, you are studying light from stars and other objects in space, including our sun. Because visible light reaches our eyes by bouncing off objects, we see green trees, red cars, and planets of different colors. This light from our star—the sun—appears to be one color. Is it possible it’s made up of all the colors we see? Let’s find out!

Activity: On your piece of white paper, trace a circle around the outside of the CD or DVD and then trace the hole in its center. If you don’t have a CD or DVD, draw a four-inch circle and a smaller half-inch circle in the middle.

Divide the circle into six sections (similar to pizza slices) and fill each section with a different color.

Then trace the CD or DVD and the hole in its center onto the cardboard—or use the same dimensions from the circles on your piece of white paper.

Cut out both circles, then glue the paper and cardboard together—color side out.

Make two holes on opposite sides of the inner circle that are half an inch apart.

Feed each end of the string through each of the holes so that the string makes a loop on one end, the spinner sits in the center, and there are two loose ends of string on the other. Tie the loose ends in a knot.

Now spin the disk by twirling the string, periodically pulling the ends of the string taut then loosening them. Play with different speeds and see what happens to all the colors. What do you see? What does this tell you about white light? The eye perceives a muddy white color because of persistent vision—which is the retina of the eye mixing all the colors into one. Draw a picture of your observations in your notebook.

Share your demonstration with family and friends!

Check out this video to see the spinner in action.

Troop Leaders:  The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in your  Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.

Girl Scouts at Home activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming and optimized for use at home during a period of social distancing.

Adapted from Step 1 of the Cadette Space Science Researcher badge. Purchase the official Badge Booklet to complete all requirements and earn the badge.