Making a Pinhole Camera

2nd - 4th

Students construct a pinhole camera in order to explain the basic property of the inversion of light. A well-designed and effective lesson.

Resource Details

Instructional Designs
Project-Based Learning

Making a Pinhole Camera

Students are introduced to the basic straight line pattern of travel that light takes. A cereal box and wax paper provide the pinhole camera that captures the light's inverted image. Shifting this pattern provides additional challenges.

Playing with Parachutes

This lesson certainly will not be a drag! Little engineers design parachutes that make use of air resistance and, as a result, slow the descent of the payload as much as possible. It is an opportunity to teach about many motion concepts: air resistance, drag, gravity, Newton's laws of motion, etc. Primaries can simply design and test, while older learners are provided with background reading, a planning page, data tables, and evaluation questions to stimulate critical thinking. This resource will inspire your learners to reach new heights!

Toxic Popcorn Design Challenge

Engineering enthusiasts are sure to explode in understanding as they practice the engineering design process (EDP). A container of "toxic popcorn" is placed in the classroom. Teams must work together to devise a method for removing it safely. Plan on awarding successful teams with a delicious snack at the end of the challenge.

Measuring the Wind

When earth scientists or mini meteorologists are learning about wind, they can participate in an engineering activity in which they will design and construct an anemometer. A thorough overview of different types of anemometers is included for learners to read, making this a way to address Common Core State Standards for scientific literacy in addition to meeting several Next Generation Science Standards. The publisher doesn't mention it, but the reading material can be used to address standards for scientific literacy!

Rubber Band Racers

After reading a brief overview of automobile history and introduction to energy and motion, automotive engineering teams plan, construct, test, and evaluate a rubber-band-powered car. This manipulative experience can enrich understanding of kinetic and potential energy, so consider using the instructional activity in a physical science class or, as intended, an engineering class. The fine motor skills required for making the cars are beyond early elementary engineers, and the concepts are most likely beneath middle schoolers, so look to using this instructional activity with fourth-fifth grades.

Making a Pinhole Camera #1

Students make a pinhole camera and see the effects of light travelling in straight lines have on images.

Making A Pinhole Camera

Students discuss light and how it travels in straight lines, create pinhole cameras with cylindrical boxes and wax paper, and experiment with moving camera in different directions to see how it changes images.

Making a Pinhole Camera #2

Learners make a pinhole camera and see the effects that light travelling in straight lines have on images.

Designing a Playground!

Students design their own playground equipment. In this design lesson, students take pictures of equipment they like and make a class pictograph of their favorite ones. They investigate the design, research equipment around the world, and talk with experts.


Students explore light.  In this light wave physics instructional activity, students construct periscopes, kaleidoscopes, color wheels, and pinhole cameras.  Students observe and record characteristics of light demonstrated through the use of these tools.

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