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written by Stewart Woodruff
This web site provides step-by-step directions for constructing a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal box and other common household items.  Each step is supplemented with photos to show exactly how to build the apparatus so that it will actually take pictures.  Also included are detailed procedures for shooting the photographs and developing them in an amateur darkroom.  In the physical science classroom, pinhole optics is often used as a springboard to promote understanding of the ray model of light.  This lab is designed as a project-based learning activity, adaptable for use in middle school or in more advanced high school courses.
Editor's Note: If performing this activity with children, follow safety procedures for using the photo developing agent.  SEE THIS LINK for safety information on Kodak Dektol:  
http://www2.itap.purdue.edu/msds/docs/9735.pdf
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
Optics
- Geometrical Optics
= Pinhole
- Middle School
- High School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Project
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- New teachers
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Intended User:
Educator
Format:
text/html
Access Rights:
Limited free access
Not in the public domain. May be freely used only for educational or informational purposes; otherwise, users must contact author for permission to reproduce.
Restriction:
© 2002 Stewart Lewis Woodruff, http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/cpyright.htm
Keywords:
camera, experiment, hands-on lab, photography, pinhole, pinhole camera, ray model, ray optics
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created May 27, 2009 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
March 6, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 16, 2008

This resource is part of 3 Physics Front Topical Units.


Topic: Nature and Behavior of Light
Unit Title: Ray Optics -- Reflection and Refraction of Light

A pinhole camera is a camera without a lens.  It lets light into a sealed box through a tiny aperture (pinhole) that projects an inverted image onto photo-sensitive paper.  Virtually any container capable of excluding light can become a pinhole camera.  This resource gives explicit directions on how to build one out of an oatmeal box, take photos with it, and even develop them in a darkroom.  Experiments with pinhole cameras help students see how a beam of light projects from a point source to a particular spot.  The accumulation of all the rays passing through the pinhole forms an image at the film plane.  This is a basic principle of the ray model of light.  Did we mention it's fun because the camera really works?

Link to Unit:

Topic: Nature and Behavior of Light
Unit Title: Microscopy and Optical Devices

A pinhole camera is a camera without a lens.  It lets light into a sealed box through a tiny aperture (pinhole) that projects an inverted image onto photo-sensitive paper.  Virtually any container capable of excluding light can become a pinhole camera.  This resource gives explicit directions on how to build one out of an oatmeal box, take photos with it, and even develop them in a darkroom.  Experiments with pinhole cameras help students see how a beam of light projects from a point source to a particular spot.  The accumulation of all the rays passing through the pinhole forms an image at the film plane.  This is a basic principle of the ray model of light.  Did we mention it's fun because the camera really works?

Link to Unit:

Topic: Nature and Behavior of Light
Unit Title: Microscopy and Optical Devices

Classroom Project                                                                 Grades 6-12
A pinhole camera is a camera without a lens.  It lets light into a sealed box through a tiny aperture (pinhole) that projects an inverted image onto photo-sensitive paper.  This resource gives explicit directions on how to build a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal box, how to take photos with it, and even develop them in a darkroom.  Experiments with pinhole cameras help students see how a beam of light projects from a point source to a particular spot.  The accumulation of all the rays passing through the hole forms an image at the film plane.  This is a basic principle of the ray model of light.  Did we mention it's fun because the camera really works?
**NOTE:Constructing the camera itself poses little safety concern, but take precautions if using the chemicals required for an amateur darkroom.  For a link to safety information, click on the blue title above (the ComPADRE Detail Page).

Links to Units:
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Record Link
AIP Format
S. Woodruff, (2002), WWW Document, (http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm).
AJP/PRST-PER
S. Woodruff, Making Oatmeal Box Pinhole Cameras, (2002), <http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm>.
APA Format
Woodruff, S. (2008, January 16). Making Oatmeal Box Pinhole Cameras. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm
Chicago Format
Woodruff, Stewart. Making Oatmeal Box Pinhole Cameras. January 16, 2008. http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm (accessed 20 September 2014).
MLA Format
Woodruff, Stewart. Making Oatmeal Box Pinhole Cameras. 2002. 16 Jan. 2008. 20 Sep. 2014 <http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Stewart Woodruff", Title = {Making Oatmeal Box Pinhole Cameras}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {20 September 2014}, Month = {January 16, 2008}, Year = {2002} }
Refer Export Format

%A Stewart Woodruff
%T Making Oatmeal Box Pinhole Cameras
%D January 16, 2008
%U http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Woodruff, Stewart
%D January 16, 2008
%T Making Oatmeal Box Pinhole Cameras
%V 2014
%N 20 September 2014
%8 January 16, 2008
%9 text/html
%U http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm


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