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Make a Rain Gauge
to Measure Rainfall

Rain is an important part of our weather. It affects everything from your town's water supply to how the crops grow, and it also plays a big role in our daily lives!

storm cloud

Storm clouds

Rain forms from tiny water droplets inside clouds. Meteorologists can find out how much water a storm cloud holds by figuring out how much rain falls over a period of time. One tool they use to measure rainfall is a rain gauge.

Make your own rain gauge to measure the rainfall in your area.

The Materials

listed materials for the activity
  • Tall, clear jar with straight sides, at least 2 inches high. Most spaghetti sauce jars are good.
  • Funnel (with an opening about the same size as the jar's base)
  • Plastic ruler
  • Clear tape or masking tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Printout of your Weather Chart

What To Do

Part 1: Make Your Rain Gauge

1

Remove the jar's label. (If it's hard to remove, try soaking the jar in warm, soapy water for 5 minutes.)

2

Apply a piece of tape on the side of the jar, running from the bottom to the top. Then use the ruler and a permanent marker to mark inches and half-inches along the tape, starting from the bottom. (Be sure the bottom of the ruler is even with the bottom of the jar.) Make the inch lines long and the 1/2-inch lines short. Then cover your marks with a second piece of clear tape.

applying a line of tape up the side of glass jar
marking measurements on the tape strip

Part 2: Measure Rainfall

3

If you're using a funnel, place it in the jar.

girls displaying final rain gauge jar with funnel inserted into opening
4

Put the jar outside on a day it's supposed to rain.

5

Observe your jar at the end of the day, or after the rain has ended. Look at the ruler to determine how many inches of rain were collected. (If it's raining hard, watch for the jar to fill up, record the amount, empty it, and then let it continue to fill up until the rain stops. Add up the rain measurements when the rain stops.)

6

Record the date and the results in your Weather Chart.

7

Be sure to empty the jar before you use it again.

Image Credits:

Storm clouds by Vita Leonis on Unsplash; all other images courtesy of AMNH.