Kentwood — As the winter chill settled outside their classroom windows, the Pinewood Middle School sixth grade science classroom was a flurry of activity.
Students experimented with geometric shapes, crystals and measurements in learning the science of snowflakes. “They can be all kinds of shapes and sizes, and (I learned) the way that they formed,” said student Lily Pennock.
Science teacher Lainey Bryde each year leads the mini-unit the week before winter break to teach the science behind the fluffy, icy and intricately designed precipitation. Sixth grade science covers phenomena such as snow, a natural phenomenon, she said.
The chemistry, math and art lesson included how snow pellets — called graupel — and fluffy aggregate snowflakes come together in the sky. “I learned about how they form and how the graupel snowflakes are heavier and fall quicker than aggregate,” said student Olive Newmair.
Students timed the speed of graupel versus aggregate flakes by dropping paper models from the top of a yardstick and tracking data.
They also shaped pipe cleaners into ornaments while learning about crystallization by dipping their shapes into Borax and hot water, and after the resulting overnight crystallization, wrapping their finished snowflake ornaments in tissue paper.
“I am going to bring it home and show my family what I have made,” said student Belis Umurarwa.