Build a Pinhole Camera
Today, nearly everyone has a digital camera, and it’s easy to take a perfect photograph every time. But like many electronics, cameras may seem mystical and complicated to your child, and they can be expensive too! This project teaches how simple a camera can be, and how light forms an image on the film. It’s an inexpensive project, a great science experience to learn about optics, and a fun art activity, too! Best of all, making the camera is only the beginning.
The pinhole camera was the first camera ever invented, and it’s very simple—made up of only a small aperture, a shutter, a light-proof container, and some film. The images produced are surreal, artsy, and quite unique. To start the activity, you may want to show your child the differences in quality and style between old photographs and today’s images. Your child will be amazed that she can build her own camera and take her own artistic photographs!
What You Need:
- 35mm film
- A small box: wood, metal, plastic, or cardboard. It should have room to hold film canisters on both sides and still allow space in the middle for taking the photograph (a 7 inch cube or larger works best)
- 1/4" wooden dowels
- Black marker
- Black spray paint
- Heavy cardboard
- Aluminum foil
- Sewing needle or sewing pin
- Craft glue
- Used sewing thread spool or wooden spools
- Electric drill
- Hacksaw or dremel cutting tool
Note: Because of the different steps and tools involved, this is definitely a project that your child should do along with an adult.