Science Physics Optics

CHILDREN'S ACTIVITY: How to Make a Pinhole Camera

Would you like to make a wonderful camera in just five minutes? Don't worry, it's easy to make and you'll have lots of fun. Plus you will be able to see everything (including your family) upside-down! Just follow the instructions below, and before you know it, you'll be looking at the world in a whole new way.

The pinhole camera is simple to make:

What you will need:

• Empty and clean Pringles tube
• Pen/pencil
• Stanley knife (to be used by a grown up)
• Sticky tape
• Foil
• Drawing pin

What you need to do:

• Step 1: Take the lid of the Pringles tube, but don't throw it away. Make sure the inside of the tube is clean,
• Step 2: Draw a line all the way around the tube, at about three inches from the bottom of the tube. Then get a grown up to cut along this line, again all the way around the tube,
• Step 3: I hope you didn't throw the lid away! Get the lid and place it on the open end on the bottom piece of the tube. Now get the other piece of the tube and place that back on top as it was before,
• Step 4: Now, it is important that no other light should be able to get into the tube. So, get some kitchen foil and wrap it along the tube. To do this, stick one edge of the foil to the side of the tube and wrap it around the tube at least twice. Then stick down the loose edge of the foil.
• Step 5: Now you have to be very careful. Get the drawing pin and pierce a hole in the centre of the shiny metal end of the Pringles tube.

Viola!!! You now have your very own pinhole camera. Close one eye, and hold the open end of the tube to the other open eye. Go outside and enjoy the strange new world.

What does the pinhole camera teach us?

The pinhole Camera was invented by a scientist by the name of Ibn Haitham who lived from 965-1040 CE. He used the pinhole camera to prove several points including the fact that light travels in a straight line, and that vision is created by light travelling into our eye. This last point is very important as it disproved the ideas of philosophers such as Plato and Ptolemy who believed in the 'Emission Theory', i.e. that vision began in the eye and then travelled outward into the world.

by: FSTC, Thu 16 March, 2006

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