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Exhibits > Featured Exhibits > Submarine Dive

Submarine Dive—Transportation Museum 2015

Submarines are an unusual form of transportation! Learn how they function, and then make your own toy submarine that sinks and rises on command.

How Do Submarines Work?

When a submarine is at the surface, its ballast tanks are filled with air. In order to submerge, the ballast tanks are filed with water, making the submarine heavy. This causes it to sink.

When the submarine has to resurface, the water is pumped out of the ballast tanks and compressed air is forced in. Once the tanks are filled with air—which is light—the submarine will float to the top.

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Creating the Exhibit

Learn how to recreate the museum exhibit at home, with only a few simple ingredients.

First, you'll need to buy a toy diving submarine. The National World War II Museum is a good place, and there are other good stores, as well.

Then, follow these instructions and you'll be good to go!


Fun Facts About Submarines:


  • Some submarines can stay underwater for months at a time!

  • In 1870, before submarines had been invented, Jules Verne wrote the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In the book, he mentioned a ship, Nautilus, which could dive beneath the waves and re-surface when it wanted to. Jules Verne described this ship in great detail, describing the technology and how it worked. Today's submarines use the same technology as described in the book.

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