Guest Author - Alissa Moy
Snow is a great tool when teaching Science. From preschool students through high school students, experiments using snow can be varied and adjusted to all homeschoolers. To begin with, get a hold of some snow. For many of you readers, this will be quite easy. For others, like me in Florida, it will be very difficult! If you don't have access to the real stuff then purchase an artificial snow kit. A company called "Be Amazing" offers a reasonably priced kit, but many other stores carry kits as well. Once you have prepared or shoveled the snow, you are ready to go.
Think about general scientific concepts when using the snow for experimentation. Start off using the Scientific Method and create a hypothesis and parameters for testing. This is when grade levels can be varied and the work can be simple, like creating an idea of what might happen and writing it down. Or, for older students they can prepare a project or report, citing references and external study aids (like online research). Begin with measuring the depth, width and length of a block of snow. Find out the diameter of a snowball and weigh it. Have your homeschooler write down all of their observations and their thoughts as you go along. Younger children will enjoy illustrating their work as well.
Don't forget to use a thermometer to ascertain the temperature, and be sure to discuss the temperature needed for water to freeze. Take the temperature of the now after putting it in your freezer, or when melted if the temperature rises throughout the day. A great book called Snow "Watch: Experiments, Activities and Things to Do with Snow" will add endless ideas for continued exploration too.
While many folks don't consider sno-cones experiment worthy, they sure are fun and tasty! If you have "clean" snow you can make real natural cones. Don't use the artificial mix however, it is not for human consumption. A nice alternative is a simple sno-cone maker. The temperature of the ice can be taken, and compared to the snow outdoors. Mix colors into the sno-cones and see how fast it spreads. Time the rate at which it melts, and compare that rate to the snow from your experiment.
Another informative book is "The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder". This book has scientific facts about properties of snow, and much more, all presented in a child friendly manner. Be sure to break out your magnifying glasses, and microscope if you have one to study the snow with. Children of all ages can look for the crystals and snowflake shapes, as well as determine if it is true that no two snowflakes are alike. Enjoy these "cool" ideas!