Making a disco ball

I think the lockdown has been going to my head, and I splashed out a few pounds on an LED disco light, thinking it'd be fun for my boys.  It was indeed fun, and my husband has conceded that it might have actually been a good purchase given the amount they enjoy it.  Anyway, it made me think that the older one and I could have a go at making our own disco ball as it's a nice demonstration of how light is reflected.  I'll say upfront that it was pretty hastily assembled and could definitely be improved with a bit more time and patience, but it still works.

Sticking mirror onto the ball

A disco ball has lots of small mirrors, all at slightly different angles, which means that light falling on it is scattered in lots of different directions.  To make ours, we used a split ball pit ball (around 6cm diameter), a battered 10x10cm shatterproof mirror (which was slightly too small for the job), a pipe cleaner and a hot melt glue gun.

Mirror pieces stuck on unevenly!

In an ideal world, the mirror would have been cut into equally sized squares.  In a world where I was trying to do many different things and had a 3 year old eager to get on with the more exciting bit, the squares were pretty wobbly and irregular because I used scissors rather than a knife and ruler.  It'd be prettier and more even-looking at the end if I'd prepared this in advance.

Anyway, we anchored one end of the pipe cleaner inside the split plastic ball and glued it back together along the split.  Then we used the glue gun to stick pieces of mirror on around the ball, working outwards from the first one which was on the opposite side to the pipecleaner.  My 3 year old helped by sticking bits of mirror onto the blobs of glue, so it's a pretty wobbly effort, but I didn't want to give him the glue gun as it's pretty hot and I wanted it to be something he'd made.  If all the pieces of mirror had been the same size, he'd have had an easier job though!  The mirror we used was a little too small, which I knew in advance (you can work out whether you've got anything like the right size by squaring the radius of the ball you're using, then multiplying by 12.6 e.g. for a 6cm ball, the surface area of the sphere is 113 square centimetres), so there are a few bits that could have done with mirrored pieces being closer together.

Light reflecting in multiple directions

The real test was not whether it looked pretty, but whether my son liked it!  It passed the test and he enjoyed shining a torch on it whilst I spun it around, watching the reflected light being scattered, including back onto himself.  He had a go at changing the angle of the torch and seeing the effect it had on where the light ended up on the ceiling, walls and floor (with the curtains drawn so it was more visible).