Designing a Rain Harvester

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This Earth Rangers Project Starter will get you and your class started on your next project. Our “build-your-class-project” tool will give you ideas — you take it from there! No matter where you are in Canada, we hope this sparks the creativity you have as an elementary school teacher and inspires you to engage your students in environmental learning.

Designing a Rain Harvester

Earth Rangers Connections: This project can inspire children and their families to adopt sustainable practices such as water conservation as well as collecting and storing rain-water for their gardens, trees, and lawns. It also promotes the use of efficient watering systems for trees in times of drought—to keep trees alive and active in their carbon capture roles.

Curriculum Connections: This project can inspire children and their families to adopt sustainable practices such as water conservation as well as collecting and storing rain-water for their gardens, trees, and lawns. It also promotes the use of efficient watering systems for trees in times of drought—to keep trees alive and active in their carbon capture roles.

Printables

Start it up

Adapted from Farmer et. al. (2015).

1: Pick a Purpose for Collecting Rain

2: Pick Rain-Collection Materials

  • None: Collect rain directly into storage
  • School roof: Collect from the nearest gutter downspout
  • Rain chains
  • Waterproof tarps, fabrics, or funnels
  • Hoola hoops and plastic (e.g. to make a large funnel)
  • Tubing or pipes
  • Other:

3: Pick Rain-Storage Materials

4: Pick a Model for Measuring Rainfall

  • Centi-cubes for modelling cubic centimeters

5: Pick a Tool for Measuring Rainfall

6: Pick Learning Outcome(s) for Assessment

  • Students are able to list the necessary criteria for building a rain harvester.
  • Students are able to explain their designs and receive feedback from peers before testing them.
  • Students are able to select tools and materials to build a prototype.
  • Students are able to collect data to determine which design collects and stores rainwater effectively.
  • Students are able to assess and update their designs and rain collection locations after testing them.
  • Students are able to justify the use of a design using evidence (e.g. quantity of water collected compared to the demand).

Adapted from Farmer et. al. (2015) and Kracl & Harshbarger (2017).

Set it up

In this design challenge, students will naturally start to identify and solve problems they see and the difficulties of working with rainwater. Give them time to design, test, and improve their rain harvesters. Then, work together to find the best use for the water you collect!

7: Pick a Question(s)

  • What features do you think your rain harvester needs to collect rain?
  • What features do you think your rain harvester needs to store rainwater?
  • How could you design one rain harvester for both water collection and storage?
  • What shape and size do you think would make a rain harvester most useful?
  • How will you get water out of storage so you can use it?
  • What do you think is the purpose of a rain gutter on a building?
  • Why do you think people put rain barrels near the downspouts from their gutters?
  • Why do you think we measure rainfall in mm instead of mL?
  • What is your opinion about using the centimetre cubes to model how rainfall is measured?
  • What conclusions can you draw from your tests with the rain harvester?
  • Where do you think is the best location for the rain harvester?
  • How did you work together when you were designing and building your rain harvester? Why might engineers need to work together?

8: Pick An Assessment Tool

Use one of our handy Late Elementary Science Skills worksheets or create one of your own!

Keep it up

9: Add Community

  • Invite parents/guardians to help (e.g. helper stations for certain tools or materials, as needed).
  • Invite a biologist to share examples of water collection and storage in nature (e.g. biomimicry)
  • Invite a city or town water planner to talk about water infrastructure, storm drain marking programs and local rain gardens
  • Invite an Indigenous woman to share stories of water walking traditions

10: Add Excitement

11: Add an Earth Rangers Mission for home

References

Deerchild, R. (2015, September 4). Water walkers: Indigenous women draw on tradition to raise environmental awareness. CBC News.

Council of Ministers of Education Canada. (1997). Common Framework of Science Learning Outcomes K to 12: Pan-Canadian Protocol for Collaboration on School Curriculum. https://science.cmec.ca/framework/

Earth Rangers. (n.d.). Canadian Water.
https://www.earthrangers.com/omg-facts/canadian-water/

Earth Rangers. (n.d.). Eco-Activity: Collect and Conserve!
https://www.earthrangers.com/eco-activities/eco-activity-131-collect-and-conserve/

Earth Rangers. (n.d.). Eco-Activity: Wipe out water-wasters!
https://www.earthrangers.com/eco-activities/eco-activity-31-wipe-out-water-wasters/

Earth Rangers. (n.d.). Eco-Activity: Tree Bucket Buddy
https://www.earthrangers.com/eco-activities/eco-activity-56-tree-bucket-buddy/

Earth Rangers. (n.d.). Forests Filtering Water.
https://www.earthrangers.com/omg-facts/forests-filtering-water/

Earth Rangers. (n.d.). H2O Harvester Mission.
https://www.earthrangers.com/h2o-harvester-mission/

Earth Rangers. (2020, March 22). Tornadoes, Floods and Super Storms – oh my! (5) [Audio podcast episode]. In The Big Melt. https://www.earthrangers.com/bigmelt-05/

Education.com. (n.d.) Science Project: DIY Rain Gauge.
https://www.education.com/science-fair/article/DIY-rain-gauge/

Engels, L. (2022, April 7). What Is a Rain Garden And Why Is It Important? The Spruce.
https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-a-rain-garden-5186007

Farmer, S.A., Tank, K.M., & Moore, T.J. (2015). Using STEM to Reinforce Measurement Skills. Teaching Children Mathematics, 22(3), 196-199.

Government of Canada. (2013). Collecting and Using Rainwater at Home: A Guide for Homeowners.
https://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2014/schl-cmhc/NH15-474-2013-eng.pdf

Government of Canada. (2021). Storm drain marking program. K-12 Education: Stream to Sea.
https://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/education/stormdrain-collecteur-eng.html

Junker, M. (2022 April 23). How to Build a Rain Gauge. wikiHow.
https://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Rain-Gauge

Kracl, C., & Harshbarger, D. (2017). Methods & Strategies: Ask the Right Question. Science and Children. 54(9), 78-82.

NASA. (n.d.) Classroom Activity: Precipitation Towers: Modeling Weather Data.
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/precipitation-towers-modeling-weather-data/

Neveln, V. (2022, March 3). How to Make a Rain Barrel from a Garbage Can in 5 Easy Steps. Better Homes & Gardens.
https://www.bhg.com/gardening/design/projects/how-to-make-rain-barrel/

Quora. (n.d.) Why is rainfall measured in millimeters and not in litres?
https://www.quora.com/Why-is-rainfall-measured-in-millimeters-and-not-in-litres

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