Up Periscope!

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This activity provides instructions for building a mirrored tube--a smaller and simpler version of a submarine's periscope--that lets you see around corners and over walls. Get a hands-on lesson about how light reflects and how to use that reflection to extend your vision.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Two 1-quart milk cartons
  • Two small pocket mirrors (flat, square ones work best)
  • Utility knife or X-Acto knife
  • Ruler
  • Pencil or pen
  • Masking tape


  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Reflection and Refraction

Informal Categories

  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Murphy, Pat ; Klages, Ellen ; Shore, Linda


  • All rights reserved, The Exploratorium, 1998