How Much Has It Really Rained?
Lesson 4 of 5
Objective: Design and create a model of a functioning rain gauge to record precipitation amounts.
I started this lesson with a video and a question, " Did you ever wonder how much it has rained?" This started a whole conversation about rain and precipitation that led us very nicely into the lesson.
For this lesson, I created a PowerPoint, Weather InstrumentRain Gauge, to help explore this instrument that helps us measure the amount of precipitation. The PowerPoint also enabled me to touch upon the different learning styles in my classroom. I use videos and other digital media to engage my students and help explain complex concepts. One of the videos I used is an actual meteorologist explaining how a a rain gauge works and what it does. This video helps lay the foundation for when they must design and build their own. I also find that the PowerPoint helps keep us on track, and ensured that no essential information was inadvertently missed because of any other points that may have arisen during the course of the lesson.
I did not give my students instructions on how to make the rain gauge. They had to figure it out based on what we had discussed and on the video. One of the biggest challenges was that I gave them the water bottle uncut. I allotted about 15minutes for the first part of the challenge. I created a focus page Rain Gauge Design Challenge, which I believe helped my students put their ideas down, whether on their own or with their partner. I think that without it, the students would not have been as successful. Some of the students realized on their own that they would need a ay to measure the precipitation. They used a ruler rain gauge with measurements and wrote right on the bottle .
Class Discussion/Wrap Up
Once they built their gauges, I tested them using a garden watering can. I explained that two inches of precipitation is equal to forty mm, this information helped them mark the bottles. I could have waited until it actually rained, but too much time could have elapsed. Some of the students, at first, didn't realize that they should cut the bottle in order to make a funnel and collect more precipitation, or didn't write any measurements on the bottle, so we did have some fails. However, as soon as some groups figured it out we were on a roll!. I did allow the students to go back and rework the design and of course, that is where the Rain Gauge Design Evaluation became a great self assessment tool. Here is an example of a completed Rain gauge evaluation. I purposely created this reflection sheet, however, I left out the word reflection. I find that when I ask students to reflect, they struggle in pinpointing their ideas, but when I ask them to "evaluate" what they've done, they are ready to share what worked and what didn't. We placed the rain gauges outside and will record the precipitation for approximately one week. If it didn't rain then we would do it for two weeks. I had one student who insisted on checking his rain gauge to see if it would hold water. He said " I' don't want to wait two weeks to find out my design doesn't work." I think he's on his way to becoming an engineer!