The Science of Snowflakes
The story of a snowflake begins with water vapor in the air. Evaporation from oceans, lakes, and rivers and transpiration from plants puts water vapor into the air. Every time you exhale, you put water vapor into the air!
When air cools down, the water vapor it holds begins to condense into water droplets. High in the clouds, water vapor condenses onto dust particles. The water is said to be supercooled, meaning that it is cooled below the freezing point. When the temperature reaches -10 C (or -14 F) the droplets start to freeze. As a droplet freezes, it becomes a small particle of ice surrounded by the remaining liquid water droplets in the cloud. The ice crystals grow as water vapor condenses onto the surface, forming a snowflake in the process.
Make a Snowflake
Find out how crystals are formed using borax and a few other household ingredients.
You will need: String, a wide-mouth jar, pipe cleaners, boiling water, borax, a pencil, and blue food coloring (optional).
Leave the “snowflake” overnight and in the morning you will find the snowflake covered in crystals!
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