A CIESE Realtime Data Project

Make and Use a Rain Gauge to Measure Precipitation

Students can use tap water to practice reading the measurement of the rain gauge in the classroom. They will be taking measurements to the nearest 1/4" (5mm). If there is a safe spot outside, the students can leave the gauge outside and take a reading after each rainfall, remembering to empty the jar after each reading. If the gauge can't be left outside, the students should place it outside on each rainy day.

Make a Rain Gauge
(if you already have a rain gauge, you can skip to the Use a Rain Gauge to measure Precipitation)

  1. Rain Gauge Materials
    • Clear plastic ruler
    • Cylinder shaped clear jar (e.g. an olive jar)
    • Rubber band
    • Funnel
    • Transparent tape
  2. Procedure
    1. Remove the jar's label.
    2. Attach the ruler to the outside of the jar with the rubber band; make sure that the bottom edge of the ruler is even with the bottom of the jar. Or secure the ruler inside the jar so it is standing vertically with the end at the base of the jar/bottle. Tape the ruler in place so the numbers can be read from the outside of the jar/bottle.
      : As an alternative to a ruler, you can use a permanent marker to mark the inches/centimeters on clear tape affixed vertically to the outside of the jar/bottle beginning at the base to the outside of the jar/bottle. Cover the marks with a second piece of clear waterproof tape.
    3. Place the funnel in the top of the jar. The top end of the funnel should cover the entire mouth of the jar.
    4. If you would like, you can practice filling the jar with water and measuring the total amount.

Use a Rain Gauge to measure Precipitation

  1. Materials
    • Rain Gauge
  2. Procedure
    1. Put the jar out in the rain. Note: the rain gauge should not be put it near or under trees or too close to buildings which may block the rain.
    2. Read the ruler to determine how much rain was collected.
    3. Empty the jar after each use.