Wild Wonders Weather Watch: Weather Station – Rain Gauge


  • Clear plastic bottle
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tape or paperclips
  • Permanent marker
  • Small pebbles or rocks
  • Water 

Before You Explore:

What is a rain gauge used for? A rain gauge is a meteorological instrument used to measure the precipitating rain in a given amount of time.

Connect with Nature:

  • Carefully cut the top part off of your plastic bottle and set aside.
  • Add small pebbles to the bottom of your bottle, then add enough water to cover therocks completely, about 1 inch deep.
  • The pebbles will help to keep your container steady in a storm and the 1 inch of water will give you a base level for measurements.
  • Using your permanent marker, mark a line along the water level at the bottom of the bottle. Add centimeter and/or inch increments to your bottle above this line, using your ruler and permanent marker.
  • Make sure there is not a cap on the top of the bottle. Flip over the cut off top and insert into the bottle to act as a funnel (see picture). Secure your funnel with paperclips or tape.
  • Place your rain gauge outside on a level surface, away from overhanging tree branches or buildings.
  • After a storm, check your rain gauge and record your findings. How much rain fell?
  • To accurately record the rainfall, look at the water level at eye level.

Dive Deeper!

Some spring rain storms continue for days! Can you track the daily amount of rain that fell?

Subtract the previous days measurement from the current amount to determine how much rain fell each day. Make sure to maintain your base level of water/rocks in the container in order to measure your findings accurately!  How much rain do you think falls in Maine all spring?  (Hint:  Your bottle would probably take months to fill up all the way!)