Monday, January 10, 2011

Growing Snowflakes!

Did you know that you can GROW snowflakes?!  This is a lesson that I have done for several years.  Each year I do it a little differently.  I still have not found the perfect solution.  Basically you combine HOT water and Borax, then soak a pipe cleaner snowflake overnight.  The result...a beautiful crystal snowflake!  Last year I thought I would be able to use a large plastic storage box, hang the snowflakes on skewer rods, and have an easier clean up.  Nope.  My little electric tea pot could not heat the water quick enough and the water cooled before I could get enough in.  The experiment did not work and I ended up making 22 borax snowflakes in my kitchen over the weekend. 
This year I got smarter...individual jars!  Now it was still a learning experience.  I could only fill two jars at a time.  So I either need a parent volunteer to help for a couple of hours or find a better way to heat water.  I was thinking of using the tea pot and a crockpot next year, letting the water heat in the crockpot all day.  If anyone out there has a suggestion, I would love to hear it!
Nevertheless, it worked!  We grew snowflakes!  My little scientists were great thinkers.  Many thought ice formed.  One student observed that the size of the crystals varied.  I wonder why?! 
We are going to hang the snowflakes on our window for the month.  Below are pictures and the recording sheets we used.  Michelle Gagne, an AMAZING KD teacher from Ohio, has posted pictures and directions on her website.  I guess I need to get some electric burners!


Suzan said...

I've always used my single burner hot plate - which works wonderfully well. It always makes me very nervous because my recipe calls for "just boiling" water. I'm like you - I can only get a couple finished at a time and when you are doing 18...YIKES! I resorted to one large one last time, but I like your idea of hanging them all over one water source. I think maybe if the snowflakes are small enough you could use a casserole shaped pan? Let me know your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

This was the first year for me to try out the Borax snowflakes. I really wasn't sure how I was going to do it, but had already promised my kids, and they were really excited. I ended up finding a small aquarium underneath my sink (I guess from the previous teacher). I have 20 kids this year so there was no way for each child to make their own snowflake. They worked in pairs to create a snowflake, then we voted on our favorite one. Most looked very similiar-- I'm not sure the children really knew who created which one after they were all collected. This year I used my microwave and heated lots of water. It took way too long. Next year I plan to use the water warmer (like you use to make hot tea and hot chocolate) at our school.

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