A peek under the surface of water
illustration of crayfish in the water

Sometimes the best way to learn about what goes on in the water is to get right down in it. Since people can't breath below the surface, we need special equipment to discover the underwater world. SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) divers use air tanks or submarines to study water creatures. A much easier way to get closer to the animals which make their homes in lakes, rivers, and streams is to make your own underwater scope.


  • an old coffee can or large juice can
  • plastic wrap
  • a sturdy rubber band
  • cissors
  • can opener


an underwater scope

Using the can opener, cut the end off the coffee can to make a tube. You may need adult help with this.

With the scissors, cut a circle of plastic wrap to fit over one end of the can. Make sure it overlaps by at least two inches.

Stretch the plastic wrap tight like a drum and secure it with the rubber band. You may want to tape the edges of the plastic wrap down with duct tape or other strong tape.

Take it along the next time you head out to a lake or stream, stand quietly in the shallows, and you can watch the minnows swim by your feet. With the open end of your scope facing up, place the covered end of the tube about one inch below the surface of the water. Look down into the water through the scope to discover a whole different world!