Spanish Version

Measuring Rainfall

Science Activity

Students can make a gauge to measure rainfall and see how much rain falls over several days.


  • Glass or clear plastic container at least 10 inches high
  • Marbles or small pebbles
  • A china marker or waterproof marker
  • A 12-inch plastic ruler
  • An observation chart


  1. Place several marbles or pebbles into the container and add water until it is about one inch deep. Draw a line on the bottle to show the water level. The marbles and water will steady the container against wind. The water will also provide a base level for measurements.

  2. Put the rain gauge outside on a level surface, away from any overhanging eaves or trees. Leave the gauge outside all week. Measure the rainfall every day at about the same time of day. Record readings and comments about the weather on an observation chart.

To Measure Rainfall

Have one student hold the ruler against the side of the container, with the ruler's bottom end even with the base line. Have another student read the height of the water column. To get an accurate reading, the student must be at eye level with the top of the water. Subtract the previous day's reading from the new reading to determine how much rain fell between readings. Always use the original mark as the base line.

rain gauge graphic

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