Winter STEM with Snowflakes
The kids are always excited for the first snow of the year. To gear up for it, we read Snowflake Bentley, which is always a favorite. I also planned some fun winter STEM activities.
Snow Crystal Formations
It’s so magical to look at the first photos ever taken of snowflakes. If you are looking for some background information to get started on the study of snowflakes, there is an entire site dedicated to this topic:
where you can also find and download this guide of 35 snowflake types:
This Huffington Post article has more photographs of snowflakes, which are truly amazing!
With with release of Star Wars The Force Awakens, these are sure to be an instant hit with your kids:
Snowflake Winter STEM
Design some paper snowflakes and see which paper snowflake would make the best windmill design. You will want to make these snowflakes out of card stock so they are sturdy enough. Using an empty milk carton and a bamboo skewer through the center of the snowflake, blow on it (or us a fan). Does it spin or buckle?
Another fun experiment to do with paper snowflakes is to tape them onto a dark piece of paper and hang them in the sunlight. Wait a week of two, then remove the snowflake! You can also do this with solar print paper, which is incidentally the same process engineers used for many years to make blueprints! Cyanotypes can be done using this process (or you can purchase solar print paper and follow the simple instructions). For more detailed information about the history of cyanotype printing, The Getty Conservation Institute has put together this wonderful publication:
If you still aren’t convinced paper folding and cutting qualifies as a STEM activity, head on over to Erik Demaine’s website or watch this documentary, Between the Folds: The Art of Orgami. Advanced paper folding techniques can have practical engineering applications. Did you ever wonder about how an airbag is folded up until deployment? What about folded solar panels or even heart stents? It’s not just simple paper folding!
I hope you enjoy learning about snowflakes with your students. You may end up inspiring a future crystallographer! If you are looking for even more Snowflake STEM activities, please feel free to check out my latest Winter STEM resource, Snowflake STEM: