Impacts—Measuring Precipitation

Summary: Scientists collect a lot of weather-related data to so they can better understand weather patterns and changes in climate. In this topic guide, students measure and record precipitation near their school, and compare with online data through the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

Concepts to teach:


  1. Observed measurements help scientists understand patterns in precipitation and other weather characteristics.
  2. Students can collect and share meaningful weather observations.
  3. Precipitation rates are correlated with seasons and can be predicted.

Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations

  • 3-ESS2-1. Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.

Specific Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  1. Collect, record and report precipitation data
  2. Obtain, evaluate and communicate precipitation data taken from an online database

Activity Links and Resources:

  • CoCoRaHS lesson plans and activities for students in the classroom learning about the science of studying weather
    • Lesson 1—Equipment and Measurements
    • Lesson 2—Registration and Data Entry
    • Lesson 3—It’s Not Easy Being Green
    • Lesson 4—Practice Reading the Rain Gauge
    • Lesson 5—A History of the Sky: Observing Climate
  • View CoCoRaHS data reports to determine how precipitation varies by season for a particular area.
    • Have students create a histogram or line graph from data
    • Do precipitation data vary by season? How?
      The data collected through CoCoRaHS are used by scientists to better understand weather and climate.
  • Make your own rain gauge using a 2-liter bottle—Example


  • Lesson 4 includes a student worksheet
  • Students use real data to create and interpret a graph that shows precipitation levels during different seasons.