This week in Science, we learned about snowflake formation.
First, we looked at photos and models of different types of snowflakes.
We learned that snowflakes always have SIX sides.
Then each of us received three pipe cleaners that were twisted together in the middle. These were our ‘tiny pieces of dirt.’
We imagined that we were inside a cloud. It was cold and foggy there. Our dirt floated all around. After a bit, we all settled down in different parts of the cloud.
Scattered throughout the room were boxes, each containing one specific type of snow crystal (a.k.a. packing peanut). No two boxes held the same type. Each time we stopped at a box, we added six packing peanuts to our snowflake – one on each pipe cleaner tip.
After the first layer was finished, we were blown around the cloud some more and added a second layer of snow crystals:
No one in the class followed the same exact path through the room.
We just kept floating around…
and adding more snow crystals…
We compared all of our finished snowflakes.
No two snowflakes looked the same.
Finally, we talked about how real snowflakes form. Snow crystals form when water in a cloud sticks on a tiny piece of dirt in the air and freezes. As the snowflake blows around in the cloud, more water freezes onto the outer edges.
Different parts of the cloud have different temperatures and humidity levels. The central part of the snowflake forms surrounded by one set of conditions, but as the flake floats around in the cloud, the outer portions form under what may be completely different conditions.
The way that water vapor attaches to the developing snowflake is very dependent on the temperature and humidity. Under some conditions, the water is more likely to condense on the flat faces of the snowflake. Under others, the water is more likely to condense along the edges of the flake.
The way our snowflakes formed today depended on where we were in our classroom cloud at any given time. The way real snowflakes form depends on where they are in a real cloud at any given time.
Just like real snowflakes moving through a cloud, each of our paths through the classroom was unique, so each of our snowflakes was unique.
The next time it snows, take a good look at the snowflakes!
See you next week,