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Jan 4 | Jan 11 | Jan 18 | Jan 25 | Feb 1 | Feb 8 | Feb 15 | Feb 22 | Extensions

The National Science Standards ask us to involve our students in the inquiry process. SNOW is a vehicle for accomplishing this in much the same way scientists might. It is important that you involve your students in designing their learning experiences. SNOW is not meant to be a "cookbook" list of activities, but rather 'real data' for your students to construct their learning through experiences. Let's embark on this path together towards making this project a successful learning experience for all participants and their students.
January 4- What do you already you know about snow?

In small groups, brainstorm what students currently know about snow. From this brainstormed list, have each group write 5-10 statements on chart paper expressing their current conceptions. Post these charts on the wall. Each group reports to the class their statements of understanding. As a large group, bring these statements together into a list of statements representing the class's current understandings of snow. Invite conversation and dialogue among the students, but do not pass judgment at this point regarding their accuracy. Keep this list posted throughout the project. This gives you, as a teacher, a better understanding of your students current knowledge, and can help you design your investigations throughout the project. Be alert to misconceptions the students possess. Your activities can be directed towards them. Throughout the project, continue to point back to this list, refining and adding as needed. By the end of the project, the list should contain scientifically accurate statements of understanding that have been actively constructed by the students.

What you would you like to find out?

Return to small groups. Brainstorm a list of questions they are interested in. Introduce the following filter for their question forming.

  1. Does the question come out of your genuine interests?
  2. Will it lead to an interesting investigation?
  3. Can it be answered through experimentation?
  4. Can an investigation be designed to pursue an answer with available materials, resources, and time?

Each group is then to formulate five well stated questions stemming from their curiosity and write them on chart paper. Post the charts on the wall. Bring the list of questions into a classroom list. Massage wording to bring together common questions. Reword questions if needed so they point to an investigation that might be of interest. Have students come up to this list and place a tally mark next to their three favorite questions. Count tallies to identify the top three.

Report these three questions on the SNOW report form.

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January 11- Who are we?

Form eight groups of students. Have each group write a portion of an introduction the the SNOW learning community as described below. Proofread, edit, and post it on the SNOW Conference Center

  • Group 1- Introduce your teacher
  • Group 2- Describe your class (grade level, class size, # of boys, #of girls, size of school, etc.)
  • Group 3- Describe your community
  • Group 4- Describe your schoolgrounds
  • Group 5- Describe the site where you will be collecting snow data.
  • Group 6- Describe the geographic area where your school is located
  • Group 7- Share something unique about your classroom
  • Group 8- Share something unique about your school

Use the SNOW Mail web page to select other participating schools to connect with. Make a contact with several. You might be interested in finding out more about them. You may be interested in collecting additional data for an inquiry you are conducting in your classroom. Clicking on an address will open up an e-mail document within your browser.

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January 18- How much water is in the snow on the ground?

The amount of water contained in snow is of great importance to scientists and engineers. Buildings must be able sustain the weight. As the snow melts, the water must go somewhere. A greater understanding of water content can provide better data for possible flood predictions in the spring.

With temperature variations and increased pressure due to compacting, water content may vary considerably. To get a reasonable measure of the water content of all the snow on the ground, take a core sample, melt it, and determine the equivalent water content..

  1. Determine a site to take the core sample that is representative of the snow in your area. Pick a spot that approximates the average snow depth. Avoid areas of compaction by human encounters. Measure the depth of snow next to the spot you will be making the cookie.
  2. Create a "snow cookie" by carefully pressing a snow core cylinder (see equipment list) vertically into the snow to be sampled. (Make sure to wear hand protection). Care must be taken to get all the snow that should be included into the sample. The layer of snow closest to the ground contains the most water, so it is important to include this.
  3. After you think the snow core cylinder has reached the ground, use a shovel to clear snow away from the area immediately around it. Make a visual check to see that the cylinder has reached the ground.
  4. Insert a firm, thin sheet of metal (with care, a clipboard may work here) between the surface of the ground and the rim of the cylinder to act as a cover. Carefully tip and lift the cylinder, making sure the cover continues to cover the bottom.
  5. Place the cylinder with the enclosed snow inside a clean pail. Bring inside and allow it to melt.
  6. Make guesses as to how much water this snow will contain before it melts.
  7. Once it has completely melted, pour the water into a graduated cylinder. You may have to repeat this several times if the melt water is greater than the cylinder will hold.
  8. Measure the diameter of the cylinder. Enter the cylinder diameter, depth of snow and volume of meltwater into the spreadsheet (see Resource Room) to calculate the ratio of water to snow. Or calculate manually using the following formula:

    Volume(snow)=Depth(accumulated snow) x pi(Diameter(snow core cylinder) ÷ 2)2

  9. Measure the volume of the melted water in a graduated cylinder. Calculate the water content of the snow core sample.

    Water Content = Volume (water) ÷ Volume (snow)

Report the ratio of water to accumulated snow in the snow core.

Extension: How much water is waiting in your schoolyard to melt?

  1. Calculate the volume of water in a square meter using the formula below. You can then find the area of the schoolyard and multiply by this number to determine the amount of water that is held in the snow.
    1. Liters/square meter = 10 x (Accumulated Snow Depth) x (Water Content) (#9 above)
  2. Investigate where all this water will go.

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January 25- How cold is the snow at different depths?

Check five thermometers for accuracy. (see equipment list) Tape a thermometer to 3 metric rulers so the bulb of the thermometer is at 0 cm. Repeat this on a meter stick. Insert the attached thermometers into the snow so the bulbs are at the following depths: 4 cm; 10 cm; and 20 cm. Insert the thermometer on the meter stick all the way to the ground. Leave one out in the air. Let each thermometer stand for 10 minutes. Pull them out, read and record the temperatures.

Report these temperatures.

  • Are there differences?
  • Why might differences in temperature occur?
  • Where would you go if you were an animal trying to stay warm in the winter?
  • Repeat this activity comparing differences on cold vs warm days; sunny vs cloudy days; morning vs afternoon.

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February 1- Does snow temperature vary under different conditions?

Check two thermometers for accuracy. (see equipment list) Look for an area that has a loose snow fall next to a well packed trail. Place a thermometer 6 cm under the surface of the packed snow. Place another thermometer 6 cm into the loose snow. Leave them for 10 minutes. Pull them out- read and record the temperatures.

Report these temperatures.

  • Is there a difference?
  • What might have caused the difference?

Loose snow contains a great deal of open air spaces that is able to provide an insulating layer. When snow is compacted, it loses much of these air spaces, and its ability to insulate is decreased.

February 8- Paper snowflakes

Fold and cut out paper snowflakes. Have everyone in your class sign each. A list of those people interested in exchanging with each other will be in the SNOW Conference Center. Mail one to each of these classes. Consider including other information about your class or community.

How might you use this as a social studies lesson? What information about your school or community would you be interested in receiving?

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February 15- Does the water content of snow change over the season?

Repeat snow core protocol from January 18. Are there any changes from the earlier sample?

Report the ratio of water to accumulated snow in the snow core.

Why might that be?

February 22- The poetry of snow.

Explore the poetry of snow. Reflect on the winter's SNOW project. What have you learned? What new insights have you gained? Write about it in the form of a poem. Consider using haiku, cinquain, or a shape poem. Select three original poems from your classroom to be published on the SNOW website.

Revisit the list of your classroom's statements of understanding about snow.

  • Do they need revision in light of what you have learned?
  • Are there areas you need clarification on before you go on.
  • What questions do you still have?

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