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Rainy Day Science Fun

This article appeared in the December 6, 2013 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


The prospect of wet weather may drive many young scientists indoors, but it doesn’t have to.  You can harness the power of the rain for many science experiments.


Start by trying your hand at rain painting.  You will need: paper, powdered paint and hairspray.  If you have dried out water colors, you can break them up and crush them into dust to use as powdered paint.


Sprinkle your powdered paint or crushed up water colors on the paper.  You might try mixing different colors to see what happens.  Or try different colors of paper and compare your results.


Then put your paper out in the rain.  Watch as the drops of rain hit your paper.  What’s happening to the paint? 


You’re probably noticing that the powdered paint is dissolving in the water.  Depending on how hard it’s raining, you might be able to watch the colors move around the paper as the force of the falling drops pushes the pigment around.


When all the powder is dissolved, grab an umbrella and rescue your paper.  Lay it flat to dry overnight, then spray it with a little hairspray to help the colors stick.  See what masterpieces you can come up with on a rainy day!


Or try a science experiment to learn a little more about the rain.  You can start by building a rain gauge to measure the rain.


Put out a jar  to catch the rain as it falls.  When it stops, put a ruler in the glass to measure the rain.  Or attach a measuring tape to the jar so you can track the rain while it’s still falling.  Just make sure that the measuring tape starts at the bottom of the inside of the glass so you get an accurate measurement.


Once you’ve got some rain in your gauge, you can do an experiment with a rain sample to see what’s in the rain.  Is it just water?  Are you sure?  Let’s find out!


You will need a sample of rain water, a coffee filter, an oven-safe dish, an oven, tape and a piece of white paper.  Pour some rain water through the coffee filter.  Any particles will get trapped by the filter so you can examine them.


Then place the wet filter in the oven-safe dish and bake at 250º for 10-15 minutes to evaporate the water from the filter.  Get an adult to help you with the hot oven.  Then remove the filter and let the dish cool until it’s safe to touch.


Any particles caught in the filter will be left as a residue in the dish.  Stick a piece of tape to the bottom of the dish to collect a sample, then stick the tape onto the piece of paper to preserve it.


Can you see any particles on the tape?  What do you think they might be?  Bring your sample to Explorit’s public hours to check out with our probe microscope!



Explorit’s coming events:


  • December 20-23, 26-30 and January 2-5 Explorit’s Beautiful World: Science and Art exhibition will be open for public hours daily from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00 per person and children ages 2 and under are free. 
  • Winter Science Explorations for children Kindergarten through 5th grade run December 23 through January 3.   Call 530-756-0191 to register.




Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191, visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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