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Investigating Snow

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Last week we took a winter walk.  Right away the kids started noticing the snow.  Here are some things that they noticed on our walk.
Pine cones 
"That tree is still green!"
"Look at all of the pine cones at the top!"
One child exclaimed, "Look!  That tree's dead!"

They noticed that the snow was melting and making puddles of water

They noticed that the melting snow was also creating a lot of mud!
When we came back inside, we used the promethium board to create a chart that showed our schema about snow and what we wondered about snow.  This sparked an interest in taking a closer look at snowflakes.
We watched a video on the promethium board that showed individual snowflakes in detail.  The kids were amazed at the detail!
This answered some of our questions.  We learned that snowflakes are all different and have 6 sides.  They noticed that each branch of a snowflake was a copy of all the others.  To reinforce our new learning, we created snowflakes out of paper pattern blocks.  
We then read a biography about "Snowflake Bentley" who was a man who dedicated his life to photographing individual snowflakes.  The kids were thrilled to see that we had the book he created with all of his photographs.
A biography of Snowflake Bentley
Snowflakes from the book Snowflake Bentley created.
Lexie came up with an idea to use coffee filters to make a book like Snowflake Bentley to show that we learned from him that all snowflakes are different.  Here are some of the snowflakes they created!
 They turned out better than the one I made!  One of our students, Jeremiah, is a master snowflake maker and he has been teaching the other kids in our class at our snowflake making station.
We found out through our research that snowflakes are made out of ice crystals.  This sparked the question, "What are ice crystals?"  So we did some art and science together to find out!
We disolved salt in hot water, then the kids used the solution to paint a snowflake on black paper.

When the water evaporated, the kids could see the salt crystals on the black paper. 
We observed the crystals with magnifying glasses to get a closer look!

After all of our research, the kids felt like snowflake experts!  Here is a list of things they came up with that they noticed about snowflakes during our investigation:
1) All snowflakes are different.
2) All snowflakes have 6 sides.
3) Snowflakes are made of ice crystals.
4) Some snowflakes have a hexagon inside of them.
5) Some look like flowers.
They decided to document what they learned by drawing a real snowflake and writing something that they learned about snowflakes.  They used a snowflake photo as a model to document what real snowflakes look like.

One of the questions (about snow) the children wondered was, "What would happen if you put snow in water?"  Since all of our snow has melted, I will have to get creative to help them find out the answer!  I have a feeling, this may lead us into an inquiry about solids, liquids, and gasses!  We will have to wait and see where it takes us!
Of course, we had to do some of this during our investigation!  Making snowballs!


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