Learning Lesson: It's the "Rain," Man

OBJECTIVE The students will discover rainfall amounts are rarely uniform, indicating that rainfall varies from location to location.
OVERVIEW Using common materials, the students will construct a rain gauge to record their daily, monthly, and yearly rainfall.
TOTAL TIME 30 minutes (gauge construction time)
SUPPLIES A straight sided glass container, such as an empty bottle of olives
Scotch tape
Chart for recording rain measurements (see below)
Map of the area around your location for plotting the students' reports
PRINTED/AV MATERIAL Chart for recording rain measurements (pdf)
TEACHER PREPARATION Ideally, each student will be able to make a rain gauge. The most difficult part of this learning lesson is collecting enough jars for your students. You may need to enlist the help of your colleagues in addition to the students providing their own. Also, in preparation for next year's study, you can be collecting the jars throughout the year. The size of the jar is irrelevant, All that matters is that the sides are straight from the top to the bottom. Remove all labeling from the jars.
SAFETY FOCUS Turn Around, Don't DrownTM


Weather forecasting begins with measuring the current weather around us. One measurement that has been around a long time is the amount of rain a location has received. We will build rain gauges and when rain occurs, the students will be able to compare their total with each other and the "official" amount.

  1. Cut the paper into strips about one inch wide and the length of each jar.

  2. Using a ruler, make markings on the paper so it becomes a ruler. You can mark the paper in whatever increments your desire. Divide it up by inch, and then in quarters, and even smaller if possible. The National Weather Service measures rainfall in 0.01 inch amounts.

  3. Carefully align the bottom of your paper ruler with the bottom of the jar. Attach a piece of tape to hold it in place.

  4. Tape the ruler onto the jar ensuring the entire ruler is covered by tape to help make it waterproof.

  5. Place the rain gauge in an exposed location. This is a location away from trees and tall objects such as buildings. These objects may affect the amount of rain you measure. You may also glue the jar to a block or platform of wood, so it does not tip over if it is windy.

  6. When it rains, record the date and amount on your rain chart. Keep a running total of the month-to-date and year-to-date rain at your location. Remember to record your rainfall in the classroom to compare your total with the other students.

Rainfall is rarely uniform across a large area. Even when every location receives some precipitation, there are areas that can have very heavy rain next to areas with very little rain. This is more common in the spring and summer when most of the rain falls as showers than in winter when the rain is usually more uniform.

Live Weatherwise

Turn Around, Don't DrownTM

Most flood-related deaths and injuries could be avoided if people who come upon areas covered with water followed this simple advice: Turn Around Don't Drown.

The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.

If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. This is especially true at night, when your vision is more limited. Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN!

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