A Rain Gauge in Every Classroom

-Noah Newman, CoCoRaHS Education Coordinator

Students play "Make it Rain" shooting water guns at a target and measuring their results with a rain gauge

CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (http://www.cocorahs.org/) was founded by Nolan Doesken, State Climatologist and Senior Research Associate at Colorado State University.  This citizen-science project consists of thousands of volunteers in all 50 States setting up a rain gauge in their back yard and reporting their precipitation amounts to the Website.  The data are then used by the public as well as professionals including meteorologists at the National Weather Service.  Besides the goal of a high density network of quality precipitation data, CoCoRaHS also has a goal of education and outreach.  The most recent effort has been to train teachers and equip schools with rain gauges, having the students collect and report the data.  The kick-off for ‘CoCoRaHS for Schools’ has been successful in large part due to the statewide campaign hosted by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education called ‘Colorado Water 2012’ (http://water2012.org/).  Participating is fun, easy and only takes a few minutes a day!  It also meets the new State Standards in Colorado for science, math as well as geography and more.  If you know a teacher who is interested in setting up a rain gauge and reporting REAL data to scientists, contact the CoCoRaHS Education Coordinator, Noah Newman by e-mail: education@cocorahs.org.

A fun way to expose the students in learning how to read a rain gauge is to play the ‘Make it Rain’ game.  Here, two students are in a race, shooting squirt guns at two targets that filter into two rain gauges.  After the allotted time, the students read their gauges to see who ‘wins’.  During the class and while playing the game, students learn how to measure rainfall, how to measure more than one inch of rain, how to measure the water content of snow and they also learn about fractions down to 1/100’th of an inch.  Watch for this game at water festivals this spring, or invite Noah to present to your class! education@cocorahs.org.

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