Light STEM challenge

As I was writing this Next Gen Light Unit, I knew I wanted to include some light experiments I’ve done in the classroom, but I also wanted to include some STEM based experiments and challenges…so the Pinhole Box Challenge was born!  This morning, I tried it out with my 5 year old and he LOVED it!  Here’s an up close look at this engaging challenge!

During the first week of our light unit, we are learning about why we need light.  So for the pinhole box challenge, I placed 1 small bulldozer toy in the box. (In the classroom, I would set up one box for each table group with something different in each box.)  I used a pen to poke a hole in the side of our box.

Then, I told Cooper the problem.

“The UPS truck man needs to find out what is in this box, but we are not allowed to open it! Can you peek inside and see what is in there?”

He quickly figured out that we couldn’t see anything, and when I asked him why not, he said, “It’s too dark!”

So, I asked, “What can we do about that so that we can see what is in the box without opening it?”

First, he tried poking another hole on the same side.

…and shining a flashlight through one hole and looking though the same hole…and then looking through the second hole…

He poked another hole or two on that side before deciding to poke one on the top.

“Mommy, shine that light on the side and I’ll look in at the top!”

But still, no good visual on the toy…So he laid the flashlight on the top hole and peeked through the side.

No luck!  Finally, he tried poking a hole on the other side and peeking through!  “I see it, Momma!! It’s my bulldozer!”

Then, he drew a picture of the bulldozer and labeled it!

That was enough for my 5 year old, but in the classroom, we would rotate through each pinhole box after the groups figured out how to see the object in the box.  Then, we would observe what was in the box and draw and label our observations for each of the boxes.  This was the perfect way to discover why we need light and how light helps us!

Find this STEM project separately or with much more in this Next Gen Light Unit!


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