THE PERISCOPE

Frank Oppenheimeer, the physicist and founder of the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco, was fascinated by mirrors. He was very influential in making science exhibits fun and interactive. Many of his exhibits used mirrors.

Periscopes use mirrors to see around corners. The instructions here are particularly good for making them with large groups inexpensively. At first I just used Plexiglas (which is actually plastic) mirror. Still, finding the mirror was a problem. Now, thanks to a tip from a Canadian reader, it's easy to make mirrors from old CDs or DVD's.

Another reason I mentioned the Exploratorium at the top of this page is that they also have a good periscope design using a milk carton for the body. Check out their design and compare it with my design and see which will work best for you.The Exploratorium design is more expensive to build but gives you a wider field of vision.http://www.exploratorium.edu/science_explorer/periscope.html.

Super Sylvia and her family (of Make Magazine) have terrific periscope instructions, too. They have done the best at incorporating math concepts into the construction.

You will find my instructions that use poster board or a cereal box here.

A gentleman named David Baxendell of New Zealand e-mailed a very durable and attractive design made from downpipe and angled connectors used for roofing gutters. I don't have instructions for it but you can see it here.

And speaking of innovation, creative woman named Ann Davis of Oakman, Alabama used poster board and made the periscopes much longer. Furthermore, she adapted it to a theme in her Bible craft class. Each periscope has the words, "God sees me where ever I may go." She reports that the 20 kids in her class (!) loved making it. Ann added an end cap to cover the raw edges and a gluing flap along one edge to make it steady. She found the triangle pattern helpful for helping cut through the confusion of how to set the mirrors. You can ask Ann for details directly by e-mail adavis2626 AT msn.com Replace the AT with @ (this is to foil spambots).

 

INSTRUCTIONS

For illustrated instructions to build a periscope click here or on the picture.

MORE ABOUT REFLECTION

For explanations, activities and cool links related to light and vision click here or on the picture.

 

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I'd like to know how this project goes for you. I'm happy to answer questions about it. Feedback from you is an important way for me to know what works and what needs clarification.

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