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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • Maths
  • Science
  • D & T

How to make a periscope

Investigate light and reflection by making a periscope.

In this fun activity for kids, students will learn about the reflection of light in a mirror and make and use a periscope. Learners will have an opportunity to practice making a periscope from a card net. Nets are important as they allow 3D objects to be made when folded.

This activity could be used as a starter or main activity to introduce light and build on experiences to explain how light travels. Alternatively, it could be used as a main lesson activity to teach learners how to use nets to make useable objects. It could also be used as one of several activities within a wider scheme of learning focusing on understanding the use of nets in maths.

Activity: How to make a periscope

This activity is one of a series of free STEM resources designed to support the teaching of the primary National Curriculum. They are designed to support the delivery of key topics within science, design and technology and maths. This resource explores what happens when light reflects off a mirror or other reflective surface.

Download the activity sheet below for a step-by-step guide on how to make your very own Pixie Periscope!

The best results are obtained using small plastic mirrors (for example, cut from silver acrylic mirror sheets or extracted from toy compacts). If aluminium foil is used, care must be taken to ensure that this is very flat and the shiny side is used for the reflection; however, the observed image’s quality is likely still significantly reduced.

Resources required

  • Small plastic mirrors (best method) - if not available use aluminium foil (note: reflection is reduced)
  • Scissors
  • Card
  • Glue sticks, sticky tape
  • Double-sided sticky tape
  • Rulers

What is a periscope?

A periscope is an optical device to observe objects, people, or scenes from a concealed or submerged position. It typically consists of a long tube with mirrors or prisms inside that redirect the light, allowing the viewer to see what is happening above the surface or around obstacles. Periscopes are commonly used on submarines to enable crew members to view the surroundings without revealing their location.

The engineering context

Engineers need to understand how light travels and is reflected off surfaces; This is vital when engineers design rear-view mirrors for cars, periscopes for submarines and giant telescopes to look at the stars.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, students will be able to understand what happens when light is reflected off a mirror, and they will be able to make a periscope from a net.

Download the free How to make a periscope activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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