Solar Eclipse Science Project

Repurpose your KiwiCo box and make a pinhole projector for safe solar viewing! Light from the sun is focused through a tiny pinhole, then projected onto a screen hidden inside the box. Just peek through the viewing window to safely observe the image of our closest star — the sun!Instead of observing the sun directly, this projector allows you look at an image of the sun. Only a tiny bit of the sun's light enters the pinhole, so this image is much, much, MUCH dimmer than unfiltered sunlight, making it safe to view. And if you're lucky enough to experience a solar eclipse, you can use this viewer to observe the motion of the moon's shadow!

  1. Ages: 5 - 16

  2. <30 minutes

  3. A little messy

  4. Grownup needed


Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Warning

    NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. Even a moment's viewing can damage your eyes forever! Even a partial solar eclipse can cause severe eye damage, so stay safe and always use a projector like this one for eclipse watching or solar viewing. Looking at the sun is dangerous because your eye is a lens, just like a magnifying glass. Ever seen a magnifying glass used to focus sunlight and start a fire? That's exactly what happens to your eye when you look at the sun — so don't do it!

  • Tip

    Eclipses occur when the moon passes directly between the sun and the earth. This blocks the sun's light, casting a moon-shadow on the surface of the earth below. During most eclipses, the sun and the moon aren't quite lined up perfectly, so the sun's light is only partially blocked. During a partial solar eclipse, the sun appears crescent-shaped, like the moon. (When safely viewed through a projector, of course.) Very rarely, the sun and the moon line up perfectly, creating an amazing astronomical show for anyone standing in the path of the moon's shadow — a total solar eclipse. Total solar eclipses are very special events, but even a partial eclipse is an exciting chance to experience the moon's motion directly. So have fun — and safe — solar viewing!

  • Step 1

    Gather your materials.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    On the back of the box, use a pushpin to make a small hole about 2” in from the middle of one short edge.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    On the other end, make an eyehole using an X-acto knife to cut a 2” square about a ½” in from the edges.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Cut two 2½” squares out of black paper.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Place a roll of tape in the middle of one black square and trace the inside circle. Carefully cut out the circle without cutting into the square. This will be your eyehole. Optional: Use the second black square to make a smaller or bigger eyehole.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

    Open the box and tape the square to the inside of the box so that the circle is in the middle of the eyehole.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Step 7

    Cut one 10½” x 3¼” rectangle out of the white paper. Use double-sided tape to stick the rectangle to the inside of the box, across from the eyehole.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 7

  • Step 8

    Close the box. Then, look inside the eyehole. Use black tape to cover up any holes that are creating light inside the box.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 8

  • Step 9

    Now, you’re ready to use your projector! Experiment with a flashlight first! Direct the light at the pinhole while looking through the eyehole. You should see a small circle of light inside the box. Then, try taking your box outside and using the sun as your light source!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 9

  • Tip

    To move the position of the light inside the box, tilt the box either up or down.

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