Sunday, 12 January 2014

What is Snow? An Inquiry About Snow!

During the first snow fall, Mrs. Ralph read the question “What is Snow?” from the book “Our Seasons” by: Grace Lin and Ranida T. McKneally.  Nothing further was read.  The question was posed to the students.  Mrs. Ralph and Ms. Powell were very curious about the initial knowledge and theories the students had about snow.

“It comes from when clouds get white, that’s where snow comes from.” K.W.

“Snow is snowflakes.” E.E.

“Snow is water and when it freezes it opens up and snowflakes come out.” D.S.
“When it is a purple sky it snows.” W.E.

“It is actually water that comes from the clouds and freezes, then it gets warmer and warmer and changes into snowflakes.” A.M.

“It’s little bits of ice.” A.P.

“When I throw the snow it feels fluffy when it falls.  It’s thick and cold.” G.B.

“Snow comes from Antarctica where there is a lot of snow.  It comes here because there is a lot of wind there and it blows it all the way here.” B.S.

“Snow comes from the sky.  It falls down from the clouds where it grows and then the cloud gets heavy and all the snow falls down.” M.P.

“Snow is, like if you put water in the fridge it becomes icy and when you put it outside it turns into snow that’s puffy.” R.W.

We then read the book “The Little Snowflake”, by: Steven Metzger, and one page in particular stood out to the students and initiated a discussion about snowflakes and snow.

“There are no two snowflakes that are the same.” E.S.

“But I see this one (on the back cover of book) is the same like this one (inside book).” G.B.

“How can we find out?” Mrs. Ralph

“We can bring our magnifying glasses and go outside and see what each snowflake looks like!” G.B.

The students then went outside to explore and observe the freshly fallen snow that accumulated in the school yard!

“When you squeeze it, it melts!” O.S.

“There’s snow on the top and ice forming on the bottom of the branch.” G.M.

“Snow looks like sparkles.” E.E.

“There are bubbles in the ice.” A.P.

“Snow turns into ice, because when you see it and feel it, it looks and feels like snow but it’s ice.” E.S.

“It’s a piece of ice because it is cold.” E.E.

“I know it is ice because it is clear.” R.H.

“I know it’s ice because it’s hard.” E.H.

“When you squeeze the ice water comes out!” A.T.

After the outdoor exploration, the students sat in a circle and shared some observations with each other:

 “I looked carefully and noticed snow is ice.  It’s tiny flakes of ice.” E.S.
“I saw that the clouds made snow.” M.P.

“When I used the magnifying glasses, I saw that the snowflakes are actually snow.” A.M.

“The snow is also frost.” W.E.

“I saw some ice on the rock and I saw that the bushes were sparkly.  I think it was snow.” E.E.

“I know that snow is slippery.  I saw it on the ground.” A.P.

“Snow is parts of the cloud and some water.” E.S.

We continued to gain more knowledge by reading the book “Millions of Snowflakes” by: Mary McKenna Siddals.  The story initiated many wonder questions and theories to explore and ponder further.

“I wonder how snowflakes melt?” G.B.

“I wonder why snowflakes melt on your tongue?” H.S.

“I wonder how snowflakes fall from the sky and land on your eyes?” P.I.

 “How do clouds make snow?” C.M.

“Why do clouds get dark and then it snows?” W.E.

“How does ice break?” E.E.

“I think snow is water and when it’s cold in the sky it freezes and turns to snow.” A.M.

“That is a good idea that A.M. said.  When it gets too cold in the cloud, the rain has to have time to turn to ice.  Then it falls as hail.  Hail is a different kind of snow.” R.W.

“How do snowflakes fall down?” K.W.

“Why do snowflakes look blue or grey?” C.D.

“Why are snowflakes white?  Because they are made of water and water is clear? A.P.

“Maybe the water is making the snowflakes white.” E.E.

“I think up in the clouds a little bit of the clouds go inside the snowflakes and makes them white.” A.M.

“The clouds are white so when rain goes in the clouds at winter time maybe some of the white from the clouds go into the snowflakes and turns them white.” B.S.

“When snowflakes join together, they turn white, but when they are alone, they are clear.” D.S.

“Snow is ice but made out of water.  If we put water in the freezer for a bit it turns into snow.  If you put it for a long time it turns into ice.” A.P.

B.S. was so curious about snowflakes, he continued to inquire about them at home.  The next day he was so excited to share his new found knowledge with the class:

“Last night I was looking at the computer with my mom to find how snowflakes are made.  We found out that in the clouds it gets cold, then a tiny hexagon shape is made and arms start to grow out of the hexagon.  Then a snowflake appears after the arms grow.  Then two or three days later, that snowflake will come out of the cloud.  Some of the white from the clouds are used to make the shape.” B.S.

Ms. Powell also had a wonder question and asked the students: “Why can we feel rain and hail fall on us but not snowflakes?”

“I know why you can feel rain and not snowflakes, because rain is heavy and snowflakes are light.  Hail is also heavy and falls straight down.  Snowflakes wobble and catch air and fall slower.” E.S.

“The hail is faster because it’s a circle and circles usually fall faster.  The snowflake is flat and the ball isn’t.  The snowflake catches the breeze and makes it go back and forth.  Snowflakes are lighter like paper.” O.S.

The students decided to try out their theories by doing an experiment.  They made their own snowflakes out of paper and made hail by crumpling paper into balls.  

Before the experiment, the students were asked to predict what they thought would happen?

“The hail will fall to the ground first because it’s smaller.”  P.I.

“The snowflake will catch the air and the hail won’t.  The hail will fall to the ground first.” O.S.

“The ball is heavier so it will touch the ground first because it’s bigger and faster.” E.H.

“The hail will touch the ground first because it’s bigger and faster.” G.B.

“I think the hail and the snowflake will fall and touch the ground at the same time.” E.E.

“I think the hail will go faster because I tried it and it went faster.” W.E.

“I think that the hail will touch the ground first because the snowflake is flat and the wind will push it up and make it float.” B.S.

“I think that the hail will fall first because the wind only catches the snowflake and makes it fall slower.” A.M.

“The hail will touch the ground first because it will go faster.” M.P.

Snowflake Experiment 1 from Anamaria on Vimeo.

Snowflake Experiment 2 from Anamaria on Vimeo.

“What did you notice when we did our experiments?” Mrs. Ralph

“The hail dropped down first I think it was heavier.” E.H.

“The hail went to the ground first because it’s smaller and the snowflake went second because it’s bigger.” K.W.

“The hail touched the ground first because it’s little.” E.E.

“The hail dropped to the floor first because the snowflake catches the air and the hail has more weight and is harder.” D.S.

“If the hole of the snowflake is bigger then it will go down faster.  If no or the hole is little, it will catch the air and go down slower.” A.P.

“The snowflake catches the air because it has holes and the hail has no holes so it didn’t catch the air.” R.H.

“I think the ball landed first because it’s heavier and it doesn’t catch air and the snowflake does.” O.S.

“The hail touched the ground first because the air doesn’t catch the hail.” A.M.

“I think the hail fell to the ground first because if the hail has little holes it would catch the air but it doesn’t.” G.B.

“The hail dropped first because it doesn’t have any holes.” A.T.

The experiment continued to supported the students’ knowledge and understanding about snowflakes.

After reading the book “Snowflake Bentley” by: Jacqueline Briggs Martin,  the students became quite intrigued by the patterns and designs of snowflakes. Using various art materials, they created snowflakes of different hexagonal shapes containing six points.

Our snowflake inquiry continues!  More explorations, observations, and investigations to come!

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