Benham's Disk science experiment : Fizzics Education


Benham’s Disk

Benham’s Disk

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

Black pen or a printer
A nail
A pencil
Some glue


Benhams disc science experiment - materials needed
1 Benhams disc science experiment - file to print

Benham’s disc example that you can make yourself

2 Benhams disc science experiment - gluing the disc onto cardboard

Glue the picture on some cardboard and allow to dry.

3 Benhams disc science experiment - pushing the nail through the disc

Pierce the middle of the disc with a nail.

4 Benhams disc science experiment - finished disc

Insert the pencil through the hole and spin the disc.

5 A television screen showing a distance educator running science experiment with a bell jar, vacuum pump and a cup of water. There is an inset of a remote class on the screen and a video conference camera on top of the television.
Live remote classes with experienced distance educators

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  • Direct curriculum links
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  • Based on 10 years of distance education experience & global best practice

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Why Does This Happen?

Colour perception is achieved by three types of cells in the retina of the eye called cones.

With the three types of cones, one is more sensitive to red light, one is more sensitive to blue light and the other is more sensitive to green light. Each cone reacts at different speeds to light and keep responding for different lengths of time. You only see white when all three cones respond equally.

The alternating white and black flashes on the disk cause the cones to respond at different times and lengths, leading the brain to believe it is seeing coloured light.

Variables to test

More on variables

  • What is the minimum amount of black ink needed on the paper to produce the effect?
  • Vary the speed of the spinning disc
  • What is the minimum size of the disc needed to produce the effect?

Learn more!

Teaching about the human body? From 5 senses to the skeletal system, the Human Body workshop has you covered!
Get in touch with FizzicsEd to find out how we can work with your class.


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