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Day One Experiment: Exploring the Science of Snow and the Uniqueness of Snowflakes

on September 25, 2017
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Materials

Snowflake Experiment
  • Dried apple slices (hidden in a lunch bag), 1 per child
  • Snow Crystal Photos (see DVD-ROM or download below), 2 sets per table
  • Non-breakable magnifying glasses, 1 for every 2 children
  • Non-breakable mirrors (simple rectangular), 1 for every 2 children

Pre-Prep

  • Photocopy the Snow Crystal Photos, and place two sets of the pictures to share on each table.

Class Time Directions

Observation is the basis of all science. God has created your body with senses that help you observe and experience your environment. Tell your neighbor how many senses you have and what they are. Do so, then have a few share their answers with the whole group.

I have something here that we're going to experience with our senses. You're going to try to guess what it is, but you need to do this without talking so you don't give away the answer. First, you're going to touch it, then smell it, then try to hear it, then taste it. You need to do all of that with your eyes closed! When you're done, you can open your eyes and see if you guessed right! Okay, everyone close your eyes and keep them closed. I will pass them out. Pass out a piece of dried apple to each child and have them experience it with their five senses.

NOTE: You can substitute something else instead of the dried apple slice if you know your kids don't have any allergies.

God gave us our senses so we can study and enjoy His creation. Raise your hand if you've ever seen a snowflake. Take show of hands. Listened to a snowflake. Take show of hands. Smelled a snowflake. Take show of hands. Touched a snowflake. Take show of hands. Tasted a snowflake. Take show of hands.

Now, raise your hand if you think snowflakes and snow crystals are different names for the same thing. For those who didn't raise your hands, you're right! Snow crystals are different from snowflakes.

A snow crystal is a single crystal of ice. In it, all the molecules of water connect together in a specific and unique shape.

A snowflake, on the other hand, is a general word that can mean an individual snow crystal, but it can also mean anything that falls from clouds in winter. Often hundreds or even thousands of snow crystals collide and stick together in mid-air as they fall. They form the puffy, white flakes we call snowflakes.

In 1885, this guy named Wilson Bentley did something cool. He attached a camera to a microscope and took the first pictures ever of a snow crystal. During his lifetime, he captured over 5,000 images of snow crystals and snowflakes.

I like his name for them—"tiny miracles of beauty" and "ice flowers."

Today, we'll work on improving our observation skills as we look at snow crystals and try to figure out how they're alike and how they're different. The pictures you'll observe aren't drawings. They're real photos of actual snow crystals that show God's creativity.

Let's get into groups of two or three and we'll begin.

  1. With your partner, look at your first snow crystal picture. Tell each other what you see. Be as detailed as possible. Don't use the magnifying lenses or mirrors yet. You're observing with what scientists call "the naked eye."
  2. Raise your hand if you see a six-sided shape in the center. Do you know what we call a six-sided shape? Take responses—hexagon. This is the typical shape of a snow crystal.
  3. Raise your hand if you see arms or points sticking out from the hexagon. These arms grow from the corners as the crystal grows larger. As the crystals fall through the clouds, they experience different temperatures and amounts of humidity. Every change in temperature and humidity makes the arms of the crystals grow differently.
  4. Now use the magnifying glass or hand lens and look more closely at your snow crystal. What additional things do you observe? Discuss with your partner.
  5. Finally, let's test to see if your snow crystal has symmetry. Symmetry is when you can split something into two matching or almost matching halves. For instance, if you drew an imaginary line down your body, it would, for the most part, look about the same on both sides, so it would be symmetrical. You can test for symmetry by placing a mirror along half of the snow crystal, like this. Demonstrate. If it looks the same in the mirror as it does in the full picture, the snow crystal has symmetry. Take time now to use your mirror to test for symmetry.

Did any of you find your snow crystal has symmetry? Snow crystals may look like they have symmetry, but when you take a closer look, you'll find they aren't perfectly balanced. They're close, but not usually perfectly symmetrical.

Every snow crystal takes a slightly different pathway as it falls through the clouds. That's why no two snow crystals look exactly alike. They are all unique! And even more amazing than that is to realize God's Word, the Bible, is unique, too. It's not like any other book in the whole world. It's a one-of-a-kind treasure, written by God for us. And each one of us is unique, too! God made each of us fearfully and wonderfully with great care and purpose in His own image. He created us to bring Him glory, just like we can glorify God for the beauty of these snow crystals.

As time allows, instruct each pair to observe other snow crystal photos at their table. Have them look to see how the crystals are alike, different, and one-of- a-kind. Encourage the kids to observe with the "naked eye," the magnifying glasses/hand lenses, and the mirrors.

Tip Corner

  1. As time allows, kids can make a craft snowflake as a visual reminder. Various ideas are listed in the "More Crafts" section at the back of the book, such as the Snowflake Station and the Snowflake Coaster. You may want to make it with six sides to emphasize the typical shape of a snow crystal.
  2. There are also some amazing pictures of snow crystals online you may want to print off and use.
  3. Remind them to share at home what they saw today!

Related Downloads

Day 1 Experiment: Snowflake Images

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