A Flurry of Winter Lessons

Posted 12-27-2011 at 11:20 AM by whitneywalters

The chill in the air means winter is well on its way so I have started planning some winter lessons for my kids. My kids are fascinated with snow flakes so when we get a decent snow fall we are going to take the whole day to do some snow studies.

Catch Some Snowflakes

What you will need:

  • black velvet or black construction paper
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Snow

Since snowflakes melt so quickly you need to freeze your cloth or paper. Have it ready frozen and ready to go for the next snowfall, and go outside and let some snowflakes land on the dark surface. Quickly, before they melt, examine the flakes with a magnifying glass. Many snowflakes are “broken” and so you don’t see the whole six-sided crystal, but with persistence you’ll see some beautiful examples.

Keep Some Snowflakes

What you will need:

  • Piece of glass
  • Hairspray (aerosol, NOT pump)
  • Snow

You can have a permanent record of your caught snowflakes if you freeze a piece of glass and the hairspray before the next snowfall. (Both may be stored in the freezer until you need them.) When you’re ready to collect some snowflakes, spray your chilled glass with the chilled hairspray and go outside and let some snowflakes settle on the glass. When you have enough flakes bring the glass indoors and allow it to thaw at room temperature for about 15 min. Now you have a permanent record of your snowflakes!

Catch Some Snowflakes to View Under a Microscope

What you will need:

  • box with a lid
  • can of “Crystal Clear*” spray
  • glass microscope slides
  • microscope

* Crystal Clear is a liquid plastic that can be sprayed on a surface and then hardens to form a thin transparent film.

Spray the Crystal Clear onto one of the glass slides and let some snowflakes fall on it. The liquid plastic will slowly creep up over the snowflakes and form a shell that replicates every detail of each snowflake. After the plastic dries you will have a permanent replica.

Before you begin, it is important to leave the box with spray can and glass slides outdoors overnight so that everything is exactly the same temperature as the falling snow. If the spray or slides are just a little bit warm, the snowflakes will melt immediately when they land on the plate and be lost.

Now, spray one of the slides with the plastic, holding the slide out into the wind until you are ready to catch the snowflakes. There. Now for the fun part – hold the slide out and in just a few seconds you will have collected enough snowflakes. To keep the slide from getting too much snow, put it back into the box.

Leave the wet slide in the box for several hours until the plastic hardens. Later, when you bring the slide inside, the snowflakes will melt but the plastic shell will remain, preserving the shape of the snowflakes forever!

Once the replicas are dry you can carefully examine the snowflakes under a microscope without worrying about melting them.  If you collect snowflakes you will notice that the beautiful star shaped snowflakes are rather rare. Often you have needle or column shaped crystals or irregular crystals. The shape of each snowflake depends on the variations of temperature and humidity it experiences along its path as it forms within the cloud and falls to the ground. Each snowflake follows a unique path which is why all snowflakes are different from each other.

 

These lessons and loads more were found here.

Filed Under: Kids Activities

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