BigShot digital camera kit for kids

Photography & Video
BigShot digital camera kit for kids



The BigShot digital camera is a kit designed to teach kids how they work while they assemble and use it. It’s being developed by Shree Nayar and his team at the Computer Vision Lab at Columbia University. From the site:

The camera gives us a powerful means to express ourselves and communicate with each other. Today, the camera is almost exclusively designed for, and marketed to, adults. A typical consumer digital camera comes with a sleek silver or black exterior and is densely packed with components and features. If one tries to open up one of these devices to study its innards, it is unlikely to function when put back together. We believe that camera manufacturers have largely overlooked an important demographic in kids and a compelling application in education.

The camera’s not currently for sale since the group is still doing field tests, but they’re off to a great start. I learned some things about digital cameras just by reading through the build instructions. [Thanks, Peter!]

12 thoughts on “BigShot digital camera kit for kids

  1. Dave says:

    Sort of reminds me of the trick, way back in the early 1980s, of ripping the top of off a DRAM memory chip so it could be used as an image sensor.


  2. Jay says:

    I don’t quite get what kids are suppose to learn from such a kit. The electronics would be a mystery while the concepts of photography might be better explained with a pinhole camera kit. I don’t know of too many kids interested in digital image capture.

    1. japroach says:

      There are lots of electronics and physics that could be taught while assembling the camera (generators, energy storage, gearing, lenses, etc.).

      Also I disagree that a pinhole camera would be more effective to teach photography concepts. With the digital camera you have more pictures therefor more experimentation, and more opportunity to point out what works.

  3. Jack of Most Trades says:

    This looks like it would lend itself very well to “repackaging”. Could you see a digital KODAK Brownie “Hawkeye” or a digital ANSCO 2-A?

    1. LDB says:

      That is exactly what I was thinking. I always wanted to make a digital camera that had an image sensor thin enough to fit in the film plane of a DSLR and via ribbon cable, hold the other components in a film-canister-sized housing where the film canister goes, then with some sort if wireless remote, trigger it. So you could reuse an old SLR body as a digital camera. This might have some possibility other form factors, though, such as folding and box cameras as you have said…

      1. Anonymous says:

        ..same here! make a conversion kit for film cameras and the world will beat a path to your doorstep…I guess the difference in size between the sensor and the film size would be a problem to be overcome…but that’s what invention is all about.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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