With all the snow on the ground, I got to thinking about one of my favorite books to use to teach about matter changes: The Secret Life of Snowflakes by Kenneth Libbrecht. This is a great book with real, close up pictures of snowflakes. Ever time I use it with a group of students they are amazed at the actual size of a snowflake.
The book is a great launching point into a lesson on how and why models are so important to scientists. Scientists use models (three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original) to represent real objects found in our world. Think about it-up until camera technology improved, seeing what a snowflake looked like was very difficult.
Snowflakes are incredible beautiful creations made during winter. Even if we bring snow into the classroom, it melts and we still can’t really see a snowflake. Sure we can spend time having students make paper models, but why not try to create something that is more real? Interested? Continue reading to learn more!
Making Models of Snowflakes:
Here are the materials you need to make your own model of a snowflake: Borax, pipe cleaner, 10 inches of string, hot water, clear glass mason jar (large).
Once you have all your materials, here are the next steps.
1. Cut pipe cleaner into thirds and then twist them together to make snowflake shape. You can use 5 pieces of pipe cleaner if you want to get fancy. I just kept it simple.
Then, tie the string onto your snowflake. I used one of the ends that seemed a bit longer. I then also measured to see if my snowflake would fit in and out of the mason jar with ease. I also measured to see if it would be covered when submerged in the water.
Once I knew that it would go into the jar and had the string secure, I put it into the jar and waiting. This is actually the crystals forming within 10 minutes!! It was really cool! After 24 hours, this was my snowflake! Really pretty!!While this activity is certainly fun, there is so much more you can do with this lesson that will meet your language arts objects.
Idea #1: Have students do a descriptive writing where they sequence they steps they took to set up the activity. Focus on using first, next, then, and last in the writing.
Ideas #2: Compare and Contrast: Have your students do a compare and contrast using a picture of a real snowflake verses the one they made. Have your students use a Box and T Chart to organize their thoughts and then write up how the two snowflakes are similar and different. Here is a free template you can download.
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