Did you know that just a few decades ago, people had to wait a day or even a week before seeing a picture they took of themselves? That’s what it was like before National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee Steve Sasson and his invention, the digital camera, came into the picture! Sasson’s first digital camera prototype was the size of a toaster and weighed eight pounds.
In this hands-on STEM activity, children explore the history of cameras and celebrate National Selfie Day by inventing a new type of photography technology!
- Craft supplies (e.g., construction paper, stickers, patterned tape)
- Crayons, markers or colored pencils
- Recyclables (e.g., cardboard, clean plastic bottles, empty packages)
- Find a person who remembers photography before digital photography existed.
- Ask them questions about what is was like to take pictures before digital, or filmless, photography. Here are a few ideas:
- What kind of device did you use to take pictures before we had digital photography?
- How did you look at the pictures?
- Did you ever take selfies, or pictures of yourself?
- Think about what taking pictures is like now. How is it different from taking pictures before digital photography?
- What kinds of devices do you use to take pictures?
- How do you look at the pictures?
- Do you take selfies? When? How?
- Next, think about how we might take pictures in the future. Design and sketch a prototype of your future photography equipment. Think about what we might do differently to take selfies in the future.
- After you finish sketching, build a prototype of your design using craft supplies and recyclables from around your home.
- Use this handy Prototype poster to guide your design.
- For an added challenge, consider creating a mash-up of two ideas to come up with something new. For example, phones, cameras and computers are three separate devices, but a smartphone can contain all three! Mashups can create crazy combinations while also allowing us to go beyond what is familiar and into what is possible. What else might you combine in a device that takes photographs?
- Share your prototype and think about how far photography has come, as well as where you will take it!
What Are We Discovering?
Technology is constantly being improved upon; this is called iteration. Many technologies are built on the foundation of what was created previously. Photography with film existed for many years before filmless or digital photography became common. Now, cameras are in our phones! NIHF Inductee Steve Sasson transformed the way we take, view and store photographs with his invention of the digital camera. To learn more about Sasson and the history of the digital camera, we invite you to watch this video.
Looking for More STEM Activities?
We invite you to check out our brand new at-home learning resources page for STEM activities, activity sheets and challenges from our very own NIHF Inductees.