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.
- 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 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 areas. This 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.
You can be a climate scientist too and build your very own rain gauge with materials you have at home.
What you'll need:
a clear plastic bottle (1-litre capacity)
scissors or a craft knife
sand or small pebbles
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.