Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Rain Water Collection Preschool Earth Day Science Experiment

Earth Day is in just under a week, and I have the perfect preschool science experiment for you!  

Rain water has been collected for a variety of reasons for thousands of years!  Only in the last few decades in relatively affluent communities have we stopped relying on this free source of water.  This simple science project will show your preschooler how much water is available every day...or at least every rain storm.  Even I was amazed by the sheer amount of water I saw gushing out our rain gutter!

To set up the experiment, use a permanent marker to maker 1-inch and 1/2 inch increments on two clear cups, like in the picture above.  Place one cup in the dirt in your yard (like the picture) and one cup under your rain gutter.  Leave them in place for a day and then come back and record how much rain fell.  For best results, do this experiment on a day when it is likely to rain! 

Our regular spot (in the picture) only caught about 1-1/2 inches of water.  But, the cup under the rain gutter was full in less than a minute!  We'll come back to this in a moment!  Use this {FREE} printable to record how much rain you collected.  Print a separate page for each collection site.

If your child really enjoys measuring rainfall, you may want to build a more precise rain gauge, like the one here.  AND, if you really want to be involved in a community of citizen scientists, you can join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network and report your measurements regularly!  Alternatively, you could just view daily precipitation reports from stations in your area here.  The National Weather Service also has a Precipitation Map here.  (Isn't the internet wonderful!)  

Now, what about that rain gutter that filled our cup up in less than a minute?  Did you know that you can set up a rain harvesting system to dump all the water off your roof into a rain barrel?  I had no idea, until recently.  Now I just want to run set it up!  Here are a few more details:

First, you should know that a 1,000 square foot roof can catch more than 600 gallons of water from a rainstorm that only accumulates 1" of water on the ground.  600 gallons!  It just blows me away to think that I could have had 600 gallons of water from this rainstorm last week!  Depending on the system, people have used their "harvested" rain water for landscaping, wildlife, fire-prevention, in-home use, and more.  

Many of the barrels have spouts at the bottom that you can just screw a hose into and use the water throughout your yard!  The barrels' price is a little steep, but it could easily pay for itself just by watering my yard in less than one summer! This is not a sponsored post...I am just all kinds of excited about this idea and really want to share it!  And, some cities (like Austin and San Diego) even have a rebate program to help pay for the collection barrels!

Here is an Amazon affiliate link to a rain water harvesting barrel.   

Would you like more Earth Day science experiment ideas?  Be sure to visit the lovely Kara at ALLterNATIVE Learning and check out more science project and activity fun in The Ultimate Earth Day Education Guide!

I may share at any of these parties!