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Light and Optics: Pinholes and Pinhole Viewers

If you’ve never played with pinholes, you’re in for a treat! They never cease to fascinate! Using a desk lamp with foil and a pin you can easily make an image of the bulb inside. Pinholes operate much like convex lenses and are a great precursor to studying optics. 


Questions Answered:

  • What happens when you put a pinhole in front of a bright scene? 
  • What will a pinhole show when placed in front of a screen? 
  • How can you set up a pinhole to show a scene?


Topics Addressed:

  • Light coming from objects can be projected onto a screen. 
  • A pinhole will cast an image of whatever is behind it. 
  • Lamps radiate or give off light.


Materials Needed

Desk lamp with metal shade, clear light bulbs, foil, cardboard screen, push pin­, craft punch/scissors


Preparation Time

Gather materials


NOTE: This activity is part of the Light, Optics, & Color Unit found here.


Light and Optics: Pinholes and Pinhole Viewers


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

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