Supplies – plastic 2 liter bottle (yay repurposing!), scissors/exacto knife, duct tape, sand, water, ruler, and sharpie
- Cut off the top of the 2 liter bottle using scissors or an exacto knife works better. Cut the top off where it starts to curve so the opening of your gauge now has the same width as the rest of the bottle.
- Cut a strip of duct tape in half the long way to make two thin strips. Use the thin strips of duct tape to protect sharp edges of plastic by folding the tape halfway over each side of the bottle. Do this to the the bottle as well as the cut off top of the bottle set this aside for later use. This step is so you or your kids don’t accidentally get cut from the sharp edge of the plastic. It is not necessary for your precipitation gauge to work but it is advised.
- Pour in sand to level the bottom of the bottle to the point where the gauge is the same width all the way through. Then fill in the pores of air between the grains of sand with water so that this is the new bottom or zero point for your gauge. Remember we are going for affordable here but you can also use plaster or cement to fill in the bottom. This will also give your rain gauge some weight so it doesn’t blow away. Additionally just keep in mind if you go with the sand and water fill that when it is warm the water will evaporate. So before precipitation events you will have to make sure the sand is saturated with water so you can get a accurate measurement of the precipitation you receive.
- The top of the level sand is now 0 using the ruler on the outside of the bottle make notches up the water bottle for the units your country uses to measure rain. The units you use will depend on whether you use the Metric system or the U.S. Standard system. You can always have both units of measurement on your precipitation gauge as well as make even smaller more exact marks for quarter inches or half centimeters.
- You then can take the top and put it upside down in the rain gauge to use as a funnel for rain! If you do this make sure to attach it securely with duct tape so that it doesn’t blow away. If you want it to be a snow gauge just don’t place the funnel in it. The funnel doesn’t work well for snow as it tends to back up and then the snow piles up in the funnel instead of your gauge. Because of this the measurements can be less accurate once you pour the snow from the funnel in to the gauge.
- Lastly place your precipitation gauge(s) in a open area where they are not likely to get knocked over or disturbed. And whula! You have your own low budget way of measuring precipitation! All you or your kids need to do now is go out and record how much precipitation you get after a weather event.
If you are interested in seeing more visuals for how to make a precipitation gauge the check out the video I did on this topic below! Plus a section all about identifying clouds and how to use these two things together to teach weather science and making educated predictions or forecasts of what clouds cause different kinds of weather!
Looking for more resources to help you and your kids get outdoors? Check out the links below!
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