A Cubic Foot Per Second

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In this activity, learners measure and calculate the amount of cubic feet various containers contain. Next, learners investigate cubic feet per second (cps), by carrying jugs in one second. This activity introduces learners to the units scientists use to measure stream flows and rivers in the United States.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Empty plastic or cardboard 1⁄2 gallon milk containers (at least 2)
  • Empty 1-gallon Plastic milk jug (at least 2)
  • Empty 5-Gallon (water cooler) bottle (at least 1)
  • Rulers / tape measures in inches
  • Calculators
  • Timer


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
      • Rate
    • Number and Operations
      • Exponents
      • Fractions
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Muller, Eric


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2011