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Optimal Optics

45 minutes

Grade level: Lessons for 9-12

Big idea

Participants will make pinhole cameras to investigate how the focal length of a lens affects the image created. Additionally, the students will use their experience to investigate the brain’s role in vision.

In the Film

In Superhuman Body, we learn about efforts to perform cataract surgery in underserved countries. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. In order to correct a person’s blurry vision, the patient needs the surgical removal of a lens and the replacement of a new one.

This lesson will give students experiences with some aspects of lenses as well as how our brains work to provide our sense of sight.


  1. Students will construct and then measure the focal length of a camera obscura.
  2. Students will compare similarities between their devices and the human eye.

Videos in this lesson

NGSS Standards

Communicate technical information about how some technological
devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy.