There is nothing better than the first snowfall of the season — crystal sparkles float down from the sky often blanketing the ground.
Winter is the perfect time to learn all about the wonders of snow.
Snow is a frozen form of precipitation that falls as ice crystals that form into flakes. Snowflakes form when the atmospheric temperature is at or below freezing (0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit), and there is a minimum amount of moisture in the air, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. If the ground temperature is at or below freezing, the snow will reach the ground. Weather conditions, such as presence and strength of wind, moisture in the air, and cold temperatures, all play a role in determining whether snow sticks to the ground and how dense it will be.
From the physics of snow to the structure of snowflakes, your STEMists can have fun and keep groovy with these snow science activities.
For STEMists who don’t enjoy the cold winter weather, or live in warmer climates, try making crystallized snowflakes with Borax and chenille stems (pipe cleaners).
- Chenille stems
- Empty glass jars
Shape a white chenille stem into a “snowflake” shape, then tie one end of a string to a pencil and the other end to one of the arms of the snowflake, and suspended it from the pencil into a jar.
Boil enough water to fill the jar(s). Once the water starts to boil, add borax (2 parts borax to 1 part water) and stir until dissolved. Pour the water into the jar(s), fully covering your snowflake. Leave the jars overnight. Crystals will have formed up the sides of the glass. Pull out your chenille stem snowflakes to reveal a beautiful one-of-a-kind borax snow crystal.
STEMists of all ages will have fun playing with this homemade version of snow that contains only two ingredients: one can of shaving cream and one box of baking soda. Pour the box of baking soda into a large aluminum pan or a plastic dishpan. Slowly mix in shaving cream to create moldable snow that feels like it’s just fallen from the sky.
Make Snow Ice Cream
This recipe from Allrecipes.com is sure to tickle the tongues of your STEMists!
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 gallon fresh snow
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups milk
- Fresh berries (optional)
Place a clean gallon-size bowl outside to catch falling snow. Stir in sugar and vanilla to taste. Add milk to achieve your preferred texture. Scoop into individual bowls and top with fresh berries for an added bonus. Snow ice cream should be served immediately.
Whether your STEMists are learning about snowflakes or making snow for play or a special treat to eat, they will certainly have a winter to remember. Another way to create great winter memories for your STEMists with the “What’s the Matter?” Groovy Lab in a Box. Each monthly-themed Groovy box has everything you need to learn about and do hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) investigations that enhance critical problem solving skills while having fun!