Make a Telescope

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In this optics activity, learners make a simple telescope using two lenses and a cardboard tube. Learners construct the telescope and then calculate its magnification. Use this activity to introduce learners to how telescopes work. This resource also has a link to an article about lenses and geometrical optics.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • 2 convex lenses with different focal lengths
  • A card board tube whose length is at least two focal lengths of the lenses when added up
  • Sticky tape
  • Color felt tip pen


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008