Pinhole Viewer

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In this activity, learners discuss and investigate how cameras, telescopes, and their own eyes use light in similar ways. By building their own pinhole viewers, learners make observations about the principles of light, and how design affects the quality of their observation tool.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • 4 toilet paper tubes
  • 4 pieces of black construction paper
  • 8 rubber bands
  • wax paper (cut into four by four-inch square)
  • tracing paper (cut into four by four-inch square)
  • tissue paper (cut into four by four-inch square)
  • white plastic bag (cut into four by four-inch square)
  • aluminum foil (cut into four by four-inch square)
  • roll of scotch or masking tape
  • box of pushpins


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
    • Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and History

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Photography and Film/Video


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



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