Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Our Own" Snow - You Can Make Your Snow Too!

If you don't have enough real snow you can always make your own. We made our own Borax Crystals during a winter that we had very little snow. Enjoy! All of the created world around us teaches us, reflects God's image and reminds us of God's continual Providential care for His creation and us:

Psalm 8:3-4
"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"

 (requires adult help--See This Link: Note of Caution Using Borax)  

What you'll need:
1. Wide mouth pint glass jar, deep enough to suspend "snowflake"
2. White pipe cleaners (wire or paper clips can also be used)
3. String
4. Blue food coloring (optional)
5. 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster - NOT Boraxo Soap
6. Boiling water
7. Pencil or wooden stick Directions: Pipe Cleaner Shapes: (Different shapes can be made: spirals, stars, triangles, hearts)

1. Cut pipe cleaners into 3 equal sections.
2. Twist together so you have a six-sided shape.
3. Tie a piece of string around the outer edge connecting all six points. The points can be trimmed to even to the same length. This will be the base for the crystals to grow on.


4. Attach another piece of string to one of the points and then to pencil or wooden stick. This will be for suspending the pipe cleaner shape in the borax water. Boiling the water requires adult help) 1. Measure how many cups the jar will hold, then boil water. 2. Pour boiling water into jar and mix in 3 tablespoon borax per cup of water. If the jar holds 3 cups of water, use 9 tablespoons borax. Water must be boiling. 3. Stir until dissolved. Once the borax is dissolved, the water is saturated with borax and ready for the pipe cleaner shape. There may be a bit of powder settle on the bottom of the jar, which is ok. 4. If you wish, you may add a tiny bit of blue food coloring now to give the snowflake a bluish hue. 5. Suspend pipe cleaner shape into the jar so that the pencil is resting on the lip of the jar and the snowflake is freely suspended in the borax solution. 6. Wait overnight and do not move or disturb. In the morning the snowflake will be covered with shiny crystals. These "snowflakes" can be long lasting and almost as sparkly as the real ones. Hang in a window as a sun-catcher or use as a winter time decoration. Some of our finished "snowflakes" below.

How do the Borax crystals grow? Boiling water is used because hot water holds more Borax crystals than cold water. Heated water molecules move farther apart to make room for more Borax crystals to dissolve. When no more of the Borax can be dissolved, when it can hold no more, this is saturation. Cooling down causes the water molecules to move closer together again, leaving less room for the dissolved borax so the crystals can no longer stay suspended in the water, which causes crystals to form and grow on top of each other and on the pipe cleaner. Borax crystals have a flat side and symmetrical shape. There are other examples of crystals: salt, sugar, and Epsom salts. Salt crystals are always cube-shaped while snow crystals form a six-sided structure. Snowflakes form the same way. Cooling water makes the molecules move closer together as they attach to dust particles from the atmosphere. All water molecules (H2O) are shaped the same making a repeating pattern to form a six sided crystal.  

Now, for the simple science.
All snowflakes are made up of water and dust particles. The wind carries tiny bits of dirt up into the atmosphere. As the temperature cools, water freezes onto a dust particles moving closer together forming what is called a ice crystal. Each crystal has a repeating pattern based on its unique shape. The ice crystals will then grow and build on top of other ice crystals to form a snowflake. The ice crystals are always a six-sided hexagonal shape -- this is what they have in common & this is how they are the same in basic shape and substance. BUT there are differences and variations due to many things that happen as the crystal is falling through the atmosphere. Temperature & humidity create the basic shape while speed of fall, partial thawing, colliding with water drops, colliding with other crystals cause variations of shapes making no two snowflakes a like yet snowflakes are always designed to be snowflakes and will never become something else. Similarities of basic shapes are grouped into 7 basic groups: 1. plate (flat), 2. stellar (star-shaped), 3. column, 4. needle, 5. spatial dendrite (lacy), 6. capped column and 7. irregular.

For the more detailed science of snowflakes see The word "crystal" comes from Greek krystallos meaning ice, crystal. If you want to read a good book about a man who studied snowflakes be sure to read Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian, a Caldecott Award Book. Wilson Bentley, a Vermont farmer, loved winter and studied snowflakes. He lived in the late 1800's and became known as "Snowflake Bentley." Most of his life was spent taking pictures of snowflakes. By using a microscope he was able to take more than 6,000 pictures of snowflakes in his life and found that no two snow crystals are alike.

A quote from Wilson Bentley:
"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."
Here's a web site about Snowflake Bentley and also see Snowflake Bentley's article in the Popular Mechanics Magazine. Another good book for older readers/students is Snowflake Bentley: Man of Science, Man of God by Gloria Stoddard published by Concordia Publishing House c1979. Excerpts from the book:
". . . Wilson Bentley didn't know then that he had been blessed in his place of birth. Jericho, Vermont, is located about midway between Mount Mansfield and Lake Champlain--where snow usually begins falling in November and lasts as late as May. He would later discover that Jericho's snowstorms produced some of the most unique snowflake specimens in the World! . . . Whenever good snowflakes were falling, Willie worked far into the night, not stopping for dinner or anything. This schedule meant long, lonely hours for him, but he was becoming a brilliant, self-taught scientist. He discovered many things about snowflakes which had escaped the scientists of his time . . . back at Jericho again, Willie sat reading his Bible one night when a question popped into his head. 'Could it be that God planned for the man who loves the snowflakes most to be born at the one most favorable spot on earth for the study and photographing of them?' The answer became increasingly apparent as many of Jericho's most favorable snowstorms occurred each winter--on his birthday, in fact, on February 9! 'God -- the Great Designer--must have planned things this way.' Willie decided. . ."
For more good books about winter and snow, see our list of favorite Books About Winter & Snow.

This web site has actual photographs of step-by step instructions for folding and Paper Cut Snowflakes.

At the web site Make Your Own Snowflake Online that's exactly what you can do and then have it entered in the "Snowflake Gallery", emailed to yourself and friend, or save it to your computer.

This web site has many fun activities to do: They have dot to dot, mazes, puzzles, matching games, decode a snow message and can be found on their Paper Mazes site.

More web site activities about snow and snowflakes:
Snowflake classification templates
Handwriting Practice "S" worksheet
Handwriting Practice "Snowman" lined worksheet
Snow Poetry: grades 3-8 - "similes"
Make compound snow words-grade 3-8

All kinds of information about snow and snowflakes: All About Snow
Another excellent web site with all kinds of info on snow
What is "lake effect snow"?
Forecasting "lake effect snow"

Picture of "lake effect snow" band from Earth Science Picture of the Day Info about "lake effect snow" in Michigan
Pictures of "lake effect snow" in New York
Drawings of snow crystals
Micro photographs of natural snow crystals
Electron Microscopy Snow page pictures of snow crystals
Kenneth Libbrecht's photo microscope photography of snowflakes
Hear online and watch a short video about the "seasons"
Stuff in the Sky
Fundamentals of Physical Geography: Earth/sun Geometry-grades middle to high school (earth's rotation, tilt, seasons)
Mr. Dowling "Seasons"
Online activity for tracing areas of the earth that have ice & snow-grade 8 to 12

Biblical Principles of Snowflakes

1. God creates and controls the weather/snow: Psalm 74:17 ". . . you have made summer and winter . . ." and Psalms 147:16 "He gives snow like wool; He scatters hoarfrost like ashes."

2. Snow serves His purpose, obeys His commands, as a part of nature and weather: Job 37:5-6 "God thunders wondrously with his voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend. For to the snow he says, 'Fall on the earth,' likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour."

3. Snow reflects the image of God, they reflect His nature, His creativity & beauty, diversity, grandeur, complexity, magnificence, majesty (they bring praise and glory to Him: Psalm 148:7-8 "Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!")

4. God creates all snowflakes having common, basic substance, shape, and patterns; similarities yet with variety, diversity, uniqueness, individuality, none alike -- this reflects God's orderliness, immutability, infinity, uniqueness, and creativity.

5. Snow reminds us of God's continual Providential care for us and His creation: Psalm 8:3-4 "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"

This helps us with the understanding of human INDIVIDUALITY.

Human beings:

1. are made in God's image, created and formed as a human and not coming from something else, they are thinking, feeling, creative, worshipping beings, human individuals are unique and diverse (although snowflakes aren't made in God's image they reflect God's creativity, pattern, orderliness, uniqueness, diversity, individuality, numbers: six-sided hexagon found in the constant and immutable character of God.)

2. are similar in common, basic, substance and shape -- all humans have intricate physical body and spirit-soul (snowflakes are basic substance and shape: frozen water and dust, intricate crystals in common.)

3. are unique and diverse, humans have variety of unique physical characteristics, talents, interests, even family resemblances and twins are unique (snowflakes have uniqueness and diversity, no two alike.)

4. have similarity of types/kinds - there are races and nationality (there are 7 different basic types/kinds of snowflakes.)

5. Christians are conformed and shaped to be like Christ by Holy Spirit and the Word (snowflakes are shaped and formed by temperature, moisture, speed of falling through the atmosphere, colliding with other crystals.)

Scientists who studied snowflakes
Rene Descartes
Robert Hooke
Johannes Kepler
Antony van Leeuwenhoek
Wilson Bentley

More about SNOW in the Bible from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia c1915:

sno (shelegh, telagh (Dan 7:9); chion):

(1) Snow is not uncommon in the winter in Jerusalem, but it never reaches any depth and in many winters it is not seen at all. It usually disappears, for the most part, as soon as the sun appears, though it may "hide itself" for a time in the gorge cut by a stream (Job 6:16). On lower levels than Jerusalem there is never sufficient to cover the ground, though often there are some flakes seen in the air. Even at sea-level there is occasionally a sufficient fall of hail to cover the ground. A very exceptional snowfall is related in 1 Macc 13:22 at Adora (near Hebron). It was heavy enough to prevent the movement of troops.

(2) The tops of the mountains of Lebanon are white with snow for most of the year, and snow may be found in large banks in the valleys and the northern slopes at any time in the summer. Mt. Hermon, 9,200 ft. high, has long streaks of snow in the valleys all the summer.

(3) The snow of the mountains is the source of the water of the springs which last throughout the drought of summer. In case the snow fails there is sure to be a lack of water in the fountains: "Shall the snow of Lebanon fail .... or shall the cold waters that flow down from afar be dried up?" (Jer 18:14).

Snow is a symbol of purity and being clean as found in Psalm 51:7 "Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow." and in Isaiah 1:18 "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Figuratively in Job 9:30 "If I wash myself with snow-water." it represents cleansing. A most common use is for representing whiteness of color and purity as it relates to Christ: Daniel 7:9 "As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool...", Matthew 28:3 "His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.", Mark 9:3 "and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.", and Revelation 1:14 "The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire..."

Snowy days...
1 Chronicles 11:22 "There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it."

From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia c1915

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