Why do Raindrops Sometimes Land Gently and Sometimes Land with a Splat?

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In this activity, learners examine raindrop bottles (prepared ahead of time) to observe in slow motion the behavior of falling droplets and explore concepts such as drag and terminal velocity. As learners examine the drops in the bottle, they will discover that raindrops fall at very different rates depending on their size.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 clear square sided plastic bottle with lid (We’ve sometimes used empty Fiji water bottles.)
  • Mineral oil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Paper towels
  • Epoxy or hot glue (optional)
  • Tape (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Rate
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Little Shop of Physics, 2009