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History Fun for Kids: Submarines

From the moment Captain Nemo appeared with The Nautilus, the world has been transfixed on submarines. While the fictional Captain Nemo didn’t deliver the concept of the submarine to the world, he certainly helped to introduce an entire generation of children to the incredible world that lies just below the ocean’s surface.

Because we love mechanical wonders as much as anyone, we created a resource to combine several key stages and events, painting a complete picture of “The History of the Submarine”.

The Sub’s Early Years

Though designs of submarines have dated back to the late-1500s, it wasn’t until 1773 that a design was created that utilized ballast stones to assist in achieving the desired depth of the vehicle while in operation. This key component, created by English carpenter Jay Day, helped birth the advancements that we see in our underwater vehicles today.

American inventor David Bushnell created the first wartime submarine in 1775. The Turtle, as it was dubbed due to its appearance, was designed while Bushnell was studying at Yale University. While it carried a ballast design similar to that of Jay Day’s incarnation publicized a few years prior, the important development was Bushnell’s providing proof that gunpowder could, indeed, explode under water. Needless to say, this changed the landscape of maritime warfare permanently.

To learn more about the sub’s early years, visit these helpful websites:

How Do Submarines Work?

Submarines are a bit of a mystery to the average observer, as they seem to effortlessly move through the water. Several components come together to make a functional underwater vehicle. For example, did you know that ballast tanks use air and water to rise to the surface (“breaching”) or submerge to incredible depths? This is done using ballast tanks that are filled with either water or air – air when the sub wants to float, and water when the sub wants to sink! Simple, huh?
For more information on how submarines work, check out some of these great links:

Submarine Uses

Controlling the seas isn’t the only important use for submarines today. In fact, new uses are developed each passing year, as technology continues to address our lack of mobility in the deepest corners of the world’s oceans.

Oil companies, tourist destinations, and deep sea explorers leverage submarines on a daily basis. To learn more about submarine uses:

Fun Submarine Facts

Think you know a lot about submarines? Well, did you know…

  • During the American Civil War, BOTH sides used submarines in naval combat?
  • The torpedo was introduced to submarines in the mid-1800s?
  • Some submarines can stay submerged for 6 months?!
  • The first submarines were powered using foot-pedals similar to your bicycle?

Submarines are great, aren’t they? By combining modern technology with our unquenched desire to explore one of the last great frontiers, the ocean, we arrive at a marvel of human innovation. The next time you see a submarine on television, why not spout out some of the facts found above? You’ll impress your friends, we promise!

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