Making a Pondscope

This lesson developed by U of M Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences
Recommended Ages: Preschool and Elementary


Can I make a pondscope?
Oh, what is a pondscope you ask? Read on.....

What You Need
  1. A gallon sized tin can or a #10 sized can
  2. Black paint
  3. Paint Brush
  4. Newspaper
  5. Clear and large sized plastic bag
  6. Scissors
  7. Big rubber band or waterproof tape
  8. Pond, river, stream or lake

What You Do

  1. First, a pondscope is something you can use to look down into water to see critters, green plants, bugs and stuff under the surface!

  2. Ask an adult to remove the lid and bottom of the can.

  3. Put newspaper down on an area where you are allowed to paint.

  4. Put the can on the newspaper. Paint the inside of the can black.

  5. Let the paint dry for a few hours.

  6. Cut a piece of plastic from a large plastic bag big enough to go around one end of the can.

  7. Place the plastic on an end of the can. Use a rubber band or waterproof tape to keep the clear plastic in place.

  8. Go to a pond, river, stream or lake with an adult. Wade in and hold your pondviewer with the open side down into the water a few inches.

  9. Look through the clear plastic top. You should be able to see what is growing and moving in the water and on the bottom.

What Is Happening

Our eyes cannot easily see down into the water of streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. There is often reflection from the sun hitting the surface of the water. The dark bottom of these water bodies also make it hard to see. By using a pondscope, you can m ore easily look d water and see what is under the surface!