All Lesson Plans

Make a Rain Gauge to Study Precipitation

Grade Range
3rd
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
90 minutes
Total Time
90 minutes
Area of Science
Key Concepts
Precipitation, weather
Learning Objectives
  • Can use the word precipitation correctly
  • Can draw, construct, and read a rain gauge
  • Knows and understands the units of precipitation
  • Can give a rough estimate of how much rain (in inches or mm) a rainy day delivers.
homemade rain gauge in use

Overview

Rainstorms can be powerful! Can you guess how much water poured down during the last rainstorm you experienced? Do you know if a brief downpour yields more or less water compared to a daylong drizzle? In this hands-on weather lesson, students design, build and use their own rain gauge to get answers to all of these questions.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • 3-ESS2-1. Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
  • 3-ESS2-2. Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Developing and Using Models. Develop a diagram or simple physical prototype to convey a proposed object, tool, or process.

Analyzing Data. Compare and contrast data collected by different groups in order to discuss similarities and differences in their findings.

Use data to evaluate and refine design solutions.
ESS2.D: Weather and Climate. Scientists record patterns of the weather across different times and areas so that they can make predictions about what kind of weather might happen next.
Scale, Proportion and Quantity. Students recognize natural objects and observable phenomena exist from the very small to the immensely large. They use standard units to measure and describe physical quantities such as weight, time, temperature, and volume.

Credits

Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


possible containers materials for rain gauge lesson plan

For the class:

  • Containers to make the body of a rain gauge. Good examples are empty, clean plastic bottles, milk containers, jars, tall food containers and cans. Select containers that have straight edges. A curved bottom is fine. They need to be waterproof; transparent containers are preferred.
  • Materials and tools to finish the rain gauge. Examples are scissors, permanent markers, rulers, tape, paperclips, clay, water, gravel, wooden panel and glue.
  • Water
  • A few one gallon or larger containers (e.g. one-gallon milk or water containers) to make rain cans, a push pin and one opaque plastic bag to cover the container.
  • Graph paper with a 1 cm squared grid like this one (at least 2 sheets)
  • Optional: a few funnels that fit on the smaller containers.
  • Optional: a hose with spray nozzle that allows different spray patterns.
  • Outside area that can get wet

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Grade Range
3rd
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
90 minutes
Total Time
90 minutes
Area of Science
Key Concepts
Precipitation, weather
Learning Objectives
  • Can use the word precipitation correctly
  • Can draw, construct, and read a rain gauge
  • Knows and understands the units of precipitation
  • Can give a rough estimate of how much rain (in inches or mm) a rainy day delivers.