Science Fun

Snowflakes

snowflake-animation

Materials:

  • String
  • Wide mouth jar
  • white pipe cleaners
  • boiling water (adult supervision)
  • Borax
  • wooden pencil

Instructions:

  1. Take pipe cleaner and cut it into 3 equal parts. Then arrange pipe cleaner parts into a star shape by making an “X” with two of the pipe cleaners and laying the last pipe cleaner down the middle. Twist pipe cleaners where necessary to keep them holding together.
  2. Take one end of a pipe cleaner and attach a piece of string to it. Then attach the other end of the string to the pencil.
  3. Carefully fill the jar with the boiling water. Keep track of how many cups of water you use to fill the jar. (do this entire step with adult supervision or let an adult do this part)
  4. For each cup of water that is in the jar, add three tablespoons of borax. Then, stir until most or all of the borax has dissolved into the water.
  5. Put the star into jar and let the pencil rest on the edges of the jar.
  6. Leave the star overnight and in the morning you should have a beautiful snowflake to show off to your loved ones this holiday season!

How it Works:

Borax, also known as Sodium Borate, dissolves into the heated water when you stir it. Once it cools the water molecules move closer together and can’t hold as much of the sodium borate, so crystals start to form to deal with the extra borate the water can no longer hold.

Extra Experiments:

  1. Add blue food coloring between steps 4 and 5. How did it affect your snowflake?
  2. Do not heat the water. Does it change the experiment? Does it work? Worse or better?
  3. Make a design different from a snowflake or star. Be creative! Which designs work and which do not? Why or why not?