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Get a Glimpse Underwater With This Easy Project

Wouldn’t it be fun to see what’s happening under the water? Sometimes you’re lucky and can put on a swimsuit and goggles, dive under the water and be a part of the action. But sometimes you have to stay on the edge. Making an underwater viewer, called a bathyscope, gives you the opportunity to see what’s happening under the surface, even while on the shore. Watch this video to see how you can do this at home.


  • Clean, empty plastic cylinder-shaped container

  • Utility knife or scissors

  • Plastic wrap

  • Rubber band

  • Masking tape

  • Packing or duct tape


1. Safety first! Make sure you have a grownup’s permission before you start. Carefully cut

off the bottom of the container.

2. Cover the newly cut edge with masking tape to smooth any jagged parts.

3. Tear off a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the cut end.

4. Place the plastic wrap over the cut edge, like a window. Try to keep it smooth.

5. Hold the plastic wrap tightly in place with a rubber band.

6. Use packing or duct tape to hold the rubberband in place.

7. Place the wrapped end under the water and look through the top. What do you see?

How it works

Humans don’t see clearly underwater from above because of how light refracts what we see.

For example, if you put a straw in a clear glass of water and look at it from the side, the straw

looks broken. (Try it and see!)

The underwater viewer works like a giant goggle for a cyclops. When the plastic wrap is submerged, or put under the water, the water pushes it up a bit. Now it’s concave like an upside down spoon, or lens in a pair of glasses. That helps it work like a magnifying glass and can make the things underwater look a little bit bigger too!


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