Making a Water Sampler

This lesson developed by Reach Out!

Guiding Question

How can we explore ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams?


Concepts: Water sampling



Each water sampler requires:

  1. 1/2-gallon plastic milk jug
  2. Rubber stopper or cork
  3. Eyebolt, nut and 2 washers
  4. 1/8 inch diameter rope
  5. Twine
  6. Brick
  7. Drill
  8. Scissors
  9. Magnifiying glass, microscope

Room Preparation: Need space to assemble water sampler

Safety Precautions: Suggest an adult drill holes through rubber stoppers or corks

Procedures and Activity


Ask what a water sampler is and why we might use one to explore ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams. What might we find?


Individuals or partners make a water sampler.

  1. Put an eyebolt, with a washer on top, through the rubber stopper or cork.

  2. Tighten the eyebolt with the nut and washer on the bottom.

  3. Tie a brick to the handle of the jug with heavy rope to lower and anchor the jug in water.

  4. Tie the stopper or cork to the handles of the jug with twine (give a little slack). Allow enough twine for the jug to be lowered to the depth of water to be sampled.

  5. Place stopper or cork firmly in jug.

  6. To use, lower the twine to the desired depth. Jerk to remove the stopper or cork from the jug.

  7. Let jug fill up with water.

  8. Bring up jug.

  9. Observe what you have with your eyes, magnifying glass, and microscope.

Closing - Original Question

Ask again, “How can I explore ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams?“


Have students describe the steps and the process used to make water samplers.
How might water samplers be useful?
What do you think we might find?

Extension Ideas

Plan an outing to use water samplers. Collect water and put rubber stopper or cork back in jug to contain water. Have students observe using just their eyes, using a magnifying glass, and then samples of water under a microscope.

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