Let it Snow, Snow, Snow!

Happy New Year! It’s January, and in the northern half of the world, it’s the coldest month of the year on average. Nature is quiet. Bears, rodents, ground squirrels, and many other animals sleep day and night in hibernation. Leap years exempted, January always begins on the same day as October. In leap years, January always begins on the same day as April and July. It’s also “National Soup Month” in the United States as we hunger for the warm, nourishing staple.

And it’s time for snow (at least in cooler weather, northern hemisphere locations). And snow leads to fun science activities. This month we make “snow” crystals, drawing from an activity in our book from the Fuddlebrook series, In Search of Hidden Treasure. We call it “Herman Tweed’s Crystals.” Check out the activity and video provided.

But before doing so, take a couple of minutes to brush up on your snow trivia.

*The probability that two snow crystals (a single ice crystal) or flakes (a snow crystal or multiple snow crystals stuck together) will be exactly alike in molecular structure and in appearance, is very minute. And to prove otherwise would not be easy. Each winter there are about 1 septillion (1, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 or a trillion trillion) snow crystals that drop from the sky!

*The beautiful six-sided structure of snowflakes comes from the hexagonal lattice structure of ice. When water freezes, the molecules connect together and always form hexagons.  As more molecules are added, they form branches on each of the six sides.

*Snow is classified as a mineral.

*A man nicknamed Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley photographed 5,000 snowflakes before he died of pneumonia. He literally devoted his entire life to showing us the diversity and beauty of snowflakes (February 9, 1865 – December 23, 1931). He was the first man to capture snow crystals on film. He received international acclaim in the 19th century for his pioneering work in the field of photomicrography.

* 80% of all the freshwater on Earth is frozen as ice or snow. This accounts for twelve percent of the Earth's surface

*People who are afraid of snow have chionophobia.

*A snow storm becomes a blizzard when winds reach 35 miles per hour and visibility is less than a quarter of a mile. The storm must last at least three hours to be classified as a blizzard.

There you have it. Bundle up and run to the grocery store to grab a box of Borax (for the crystals you are going to make in this month’s activity), before the weather gets bad. Then heat up that pot of your favorite soup, and get ready to enjoy science fun by reading a Quirkles or Fuddlebrook story and doing all the fun science experiments with your kids.

Posted: December 30, 2020

Herman Tweed's Snow Crystals


While this book is about beautiful cave crystals, it seems appropriate in January to think about lovely snow crystals instead. Make your own in this fun activity with a few simple supplies!

Santa's Elves Decorate the Tree


Try this variation of Freddie’s Marshmallow Launch and figure out the fastest way for Santa’s elves to decorate the Christmas tree. Get in the holiday spirit and learn about the science concepts of force and motion, too.

The Fuddlebrook Magic Money Stack


Reward that good Thanksgiving dinner behavior with this fun science activity that teaches a lesson about friction.

Freddie's Mystery Cans


Can your eyes be playing a trick on you? How can two cans of the same size and liquid volume react differently in water?

Armpit Fudge


Instead of the conventional way of ingredient mixing, we use the friction and the heat of the human body - namely the armpit to do the work. It's actually quite tasty and just gross enough to be wonderful to a young child!