• Half-gallon milk carton
  • Tape
  • Thick clear plastic
  • Scissors
  • Rubber band
  • Adult supervision


  1. Take the half-gallon milk carton and cut off the top and bottom so you look into a square on the cut end.
  2. Tape the bottom edge so the carton won’t tear the plastic.
  3. Cover the bottom and sides of the carton with the clear plastic.
  4. Use the rubber band to hold the plastic while you tape it to the inside of the open end.
  5. When you find a good viewing pond, tilt the waterscope as you slip it into the water. This keeps air from being trapped between the plastic and the water. Also, be sure you don’t get water in the open end.
  6. Grab your waterscopes, take a field trip to your favorite pond and start exploring!


Ponds represent a freshwater biome, or ecosystem, that also includes lakes, rivers, creeks and streams. About 20% of the Earth is covered by freshwater biome, and over half of the water that humans and animals drink come from freshwater biome sources.

Ponds are also home to many animals, plants and organisms, such as frogs, different types of fish, algae and amoeba. In fact, most plants and animals can’t survive without freshwater biomes. With their waterscopes, students have the opportunity to discover the world below the surface of ponds.

This activity was adapted from Summer Program Tips, Strategies & Activities for School-Agers 5-14 Years-Old.