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Pinhole Camera
Try This Science Lab

MAKE A "CAMERA"—AND LEARN HOW A REAL ONE WORKS!

Pinhole cameras were one of the earliest types of cameras. They use the principle of "camera obscura," in which light travels through a small hole in a dark box to form a picture. It's the same science that today's cameras use. Follow these instructions to make a pinhole "camera" and learn how real cameras work.

SUPPLY LIST

• a sharp pencil
• an empty shoe box with a lid
• an X-Acto knife (ask an adult)
• scissors
• a ruler
• wax paper
• tape
• a blanket

Pinhole Camera

STEP 1

Use the point of a sharp pencil to punch a hole in one of the shorter ends of the shoe box.

Pinhole Instructions 1

STEP 2

Ask an adult to use an X-Acto knife to cut a square in the opposite end of the box, directly across from the hole. The square should measure 2 inches (5.08 centimeters) on each side.

STEP 3

Use scissors to cut a square of wax paper that measures 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) on each side.

STEP 4

Place the wax paper directly over the square you cut in the box. Tape the edges of the wax paper to the box.

Pinhole Instructions 2

STEP 5

Take the camera box to a dimly lit room and turn on a lamp. Stand about 5 feet (1.5 meters) from the lamp.

STEP 6

Cover your head and pinhole camera with a blanket. Be sure that the end with the wax paper is facing you and the end with the pinhole is facing the lamp.

STEP 7

Hold your pinhole camera at arms length from your face and aim it at the lamp. Keep it steady until you see an upside-down image of the lamp.

Pinhole Instructions 3

WHAT'S HAPPENING?

In a real camera, the lens is like the tiny hole you made in the box and creates a backward, upside-down image. Like the little hole, the lens lets in light. The wax paper is like film in a real camera, which has special chemicals on it. When the light hits the film, the chemicals start changing and turn the image into a photograph.

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