Back to Challenges

STEAM topic(s) Science, Engineering

Periscopes have been around for quite a while. In the 1430s, a predecesor to the periscope was invented by Johannes Gutenberg so pilgrims could see over the heads of crowds at religious festivals.

The concept was further developed in the 1640s by Johannes_Hevelius with what he called a "polemoscope". By the 1800s, periscopes were being used for naval navigation and in early submarines. During World War I, a perisocope sight was developed for rifles so soldiers could shoot over trench parapets without being exposed to sniper fire.


Improve your Design:

  • Make the periscope out of carboard for a sturdier device.
  • Replace tin foil with CDs or mirror film for a better reflective surface.
  • Experiment with mirror angles for improved transmission between top and bottom of periscope.
  • Close off any gaps in the object with extra card to avoid any spare light reaching inside.

Using Periscopes:

  • Navigation for submarines.
  • Affixed to rifles in World War I.
  • Special ones have been designed for artillery officers to act as rangefinders.
  • To allow drivers and commanders of armoured vehicles (like tanks) to see outside while staying safe inside their armour.

Resources at Home

  • Poster
  • Assembly Instructions
  • Morse Code Guide
Age Range 7 and above.
Group Size Individual.
Time Required 1 hour, dependent on individual craft skills.
Location Any indoor space such as a classroom.
Similar Activities N/A
Equipment A3 paper / tin foil / scissors / rulers / pens
National Curriculum: Key Stage 2
Share Your Work #ScienceFromHome

Back to Challenges