Monday, October 29, 2007

Backyard Periscope

I built a cardboard periscope when I was in grade school. I then shimmied on my belly into the front room to look at my sister from behind the couch as she watched TV. I felt so sneaky and sly. She said she knew I was there all the time.

In junior high I saw a pair of special glasses with mirrors glued near the arms that would let you look behind you. I loved this idea and ruined several mirrors trying to make one small enough that could be glued onto my frames. My mother put an end to the whole project once she realized I was going to glue broken pieces of glass on my new spectacles.

"Those frames cost too much. You'll ruin them....and you'll cut your eye out!"
Mothers are always so concerned that we will poke, cut, punch or shoot our eyes out. My mother was responsible for squelching a promising career in optics.

So the child in me was excited to see this periscope that David Bynoe built in his backyard. It is twenty feet tall and allows him to look over his fence. Cool. Kind of creepy from a neighbor's standpoint. But still, cool.

I had two students try to build something similar that would allow us look out of my classroom and down to the main hall where we could watch the Principal's office. It never quite worked because I wouldn't let them attach the mirrors with glue or screws to the school's walls and ceilings. They couldn't get them to be steady enough with just tape and blamed me for the failure. I accepted the blame but kept the friendship of our building custodian. I suppose, much as my mother accepted the blame for my failed attempts at optics but relished her continued good standing with the family opthamologist.

I'm pretty sure David Bynoe had a more supportive mother and a nicer tech teacher.

[Image: Bynoe, David. "Blockwatch - periscope surveillance system." David Bynoe...Works in Progress. 02 Oct 2007. 14 Oct 2007 .]

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