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Let It Snow!

December 15, 2016
By Robert and Libby Strong and Richard Pollack - SMART Science , OVParent

Snow is often associated with the holiday season. Snowflakes are used as holiday decorations, songs talk about dreaming of a "white Christmas" and children wish to wake up to a blanket of white on Christmas morning.

Snowflakes are beautiful and unique naturally occurring ice crystals. They are formed from water vapor in the air changing to a solid. This water vapor forms beautifully patterned, but always six-sided, snowflakes. These beautiful six-sided patterns of snowflake crystals reflect the six-sided arrangements of water molecules that are about 10 million times smaller than the size of the snowflake crystal. This process is called deposition and is similar to how frost forms. A good article for comparing various forms of frozen precipitation and how they form is snowflakes/

If it snows this holiday season, you can "catch" snowflakes on a cold piece of dark-colored construction paper to look more closely at them. Do they all have six points? Look at them with a small hand lens, or magnifier. Draw them. Maybe even photograph them. The photo here was taken with a digital camera. For more pointers on snowflake photography, search for SMART Science from the January 2015 issue.

Article Photos

This is a close-up digital photo of real snowflakes.

From the photos taken by Snowflake Bentley, a photographer of snowflakes (actually named Wilson Bentley), we see that no two snowflakes are exactly alike. They may be similar yet not identical. The website also has photos of snowflakes and information on snowflakes - how they form and even how to "preserve" them!

Enjoy the snow this winter (maybe even for Christmas!) and observe some of nature's most beautiful gems - snowflakes!

Libby and Robert Strong and Richard Pollack work with the SMART-Center, a hands-on science outreach and education organization in the northern Ohio Valley, the headquarters of which is located at the SMART Centre Market, 30 22nd St., Wheeling.



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