Rain and flooding Teaching resource

Build a rain gauge

 Explore the effects of heavy rain and flooding while taking part in a science experiment to monitor the weather patterns in your area.

A fire engine and a British Red Cross emergency vehicle drive through a flooded road.
Practical activity
Disasters and emergencies

Rain and flooding climate science

The United Kingdom is used to rainy weather, but the changing climate is causing even wetter weather, which can be dangerous if we are not careful or prepared.

Long periods of heavy rain puts strain on our drainage systems. They can be blocked by leaves and litter pulled into the drains by the water, and all this extra water can be too much for the drain systems to handle

Large pools of water can form over time and if the heavy rain continues, it can cause a flood risk in our towns and cities. Heavy rainfall can also cause riverbanks to burst as the collected rainfall overflows and spills out into the surrounding areasThis can be very dangerous to humans and wildlife and can cause lots of damage to farmlands and buildings. 

Climate scientists’ study and measure rainfall to monitor changes in weather patterns to better understand and predict heavy rainfall patterns, helping us be better prepared and protected against flooding.

Do you know what to do in the event of a flood? Find out from our flood guidance.

You can be a climate scientist too and build your very own rain gauge with materials you have at home.


Flooding bench under water

What you'll need:

  • a clear plastic bottle (1-litre capacity)

  • scissors or a craft knife 

  • waterproof tape

  • a ruler

  • permanent marker

  • sand or small pebbles

  • water

  • notebook and pen

Follow these steps to make your rain gauge

Step 1 - Begin by removing the label and cap from the plastic bottle. Wash off any sticky marks left behind from the label.


Step 2 Draw a line around the bottle about two thirds of the way up from the bottom. Then use your scissors or craft knife to cut off the top third of the bottle. Be careful when cutting, ask for help if you need it. The bottom of the bottle will be the rain collector, the top part will be the funnel.


Step 3 - Use a ruler to measure and mark centimetre intervals on the collector, starting from the bottom, make marks at 1 cm, 2 cm, 3 cm, and so on, until you reach the top. These marks will help you measure the amount of rainfall.


Step 4 – Use some tape to cover the cut edge of the funnel as it might be sharp. Place the funnel into the collector, the neck of the bottle should be inside the bottle Use some more tape to secure it in place.


Step 5 - Your rain gauge is ready, it's time to put it to the test! Find a suitable location in your garden, away from trees and buildings that could block rainfall. 


Step 6 – After it rains, check to see how much rain has collected into your bottle and take a note of the date and measurement in your notebook. Empty out your gauge, resetting it for the next time it rains.

What did you discover about the weather patterns in your area? Let us know on social media @britishredcross, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Red, black, grey and white colours are used in a grid of cartoon people and the title 'weather together' in the middle of the screen with cloud, lightening and sun symbols

Discover more ways to prepare for floods using our free educational school resource, Weather together.

Or, go back to all climate change education resources.