Open periscope design challenge (Grade 4)

Grade: Four

Topic: Understanding matter and energy - light and sound

Design Challenge: Students will research, design, and build (using the materials and tools provided) an open periscope. The periscope must allow the user to view an area from behind an obstruction, and reflect a beam of natural or artificial light into an unlit area Students will record their results, make modifications and re-test (if time permits), and complete a report on the steps they took to solve the design challenge.

OCTE 2012 – Elementary Conference Workshops

Two students with completed periscope


  • CSA approved safety glasses/goggles, one pair per person (parent volunteers included);
  • an approved eyewash station; this can be two eyewash bottles containing approved eyewash fluid that has not reached its expiry time limit after decanting, or an installed system (an actual eyewash station, or approved faucet attachment);
  • a first aid kit (please see your Board's Health and Safety Regulations if one is being purchased for your classroom);
  • basic hacksaws (junior saws), or coping saws, minimum one for every 3 projects
  • bench hooks, minimum one for every 3 projects,
  • 3" C-clamps, minimum one for every 3 projects
  • a ruler, one per project;
  • hammer, one for every 3-5 projects (used with nail holder and finishing nail to start holes for screw eyes),
  • corrugated cardboard strips with a split in the end, one for every hammer that is made available; this is used to hold finishing nails at a safe distance from the students' fingers
  • scissors, one pair for every project (students may supply their own);
  • low heat glue guns (one for every five projects);
    • please note that white glue can be used instead of glue guns for all joints except where the mirrors are joined to the dowels (a glue gun, or strong tape such as duct tape or packing tape can be used for this task);
  • work gloves, 1 pair per low heat glue gun;
  • aprons, 1 per low heat glue gun.


  • basswood strips 24" x 1/2" x 1/2" (12mm x 12mm x 61cm),, 3 per project,
  • 5/32"(4mm) hardwood dowel (, 12" (30 cm) per project,
  • screw eye holders 9/64" (, 4 per project,
  • triangle card stock gussets 10-12 per project
  • acrylic mirror squares; for safety reasons, avoid glass mirror pieces
  • sand paper, medium to fine grit, 1 sheet for every 5 projects;
  • 1 roll of duct tape or packing tape, for the class;
  • finishing nails, one small package;
  • low heat glue sticks, one per project; if using white glue, have about 300ml on hand for the class.