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Preparations | Field Work | Classroom Lab Work


  1. Register your class on the Online Registration Form.
  2. Print a copy of the following pages:
    1. Procedure
    2. Activities
    3. Equipment
    4. Report
    5. Worksheet
  3. Make plans for classroom procedures for data collection. Get materials ready (see equipment list). Make assignments as necessary. Plan out the project so that all students get a chance to be involved.
  4. Involve the students in the project from the beginning. Take a walk through the schoolyard to determine the best site for data collection. Locating a spot on the school grounds to collect your measurements is critical. To the best of your ability, choose a spot that will minimize drifting and disturbances. The snow on this site should accumulate uniformly.
  5. Please note that all measurements are taken with the metric system. It might be helpful to use masking tape to cover the standard units of measurement leaving less room for confusion.

Field Work:

  1. Measuring Snow Depth (Every Tuesday morning by 10:00),
    1. Insert the Snow Depth Pole (see equipment list), into the snow. Make sure it makes contact with the ground. You will be reading the total of old snow along with any newly fallen snow. Read the depth in centimeters and write it on the data sheet. Guide the students through this step so they clearly know how to read the meter stick.
    2. Repeat this 6 times in varying spots within 20 meters of the center of your snow site. Record each measurement. (see data collection worksheet).
  2. Measuring Air Temperature (Daily)
    1. Every day, send a team of students outside to take temperature readings. To standardize this as much as possible, try to do this within an hour of noon.
    2. Allow several minutes for the thermometer to adjust to the outside temperature. Read the temperature every 30 seconds until there is no change for 3 consecutive readings. Record the temperature on the field data sheet.
    3. Alternatively, you may collect this data from another local source (school weather station, local newspaper, or online weather site- see the Resource Room for links)
  3. Measure new snowfall (whenever there is new snow)
    1. Check the snow board (see equipment list) daily for any evidence of new snow. When new snow has fallen (at least 0.5 cm) hold the measuring stick vertically and push it gently into the newly fallen snow until it reaches the surface of the snowboard. Record the depth on the data sheet to the nearest 0.1 centimeter. Repeat this in several places, recording each measurement. If there is snow, but is less than 0.1 cm, mark a "T" for trace.
    2. Collect a snow sample for analysis in the classroom.
      1. Hold the open end of a coffee can over the snowboard. Press the can straight down until it is firmly in contact with the snowboard. It is OK to compact the snow as you do this as long as you are able to reach the snowboard.
      2. Clear snow away from the outside of the can.
      3. Slide a thin piece of metal or plastic between the can and snowboard.
      4. Holding the metal tightly against the can to avoid spills, turn the can right side up again.
      5. Remove the cover making sure that any snow stuck to it within the ring of the can falls into the can.
      6. Bring it back into the classroom and allow it to melt.
    3. Lift the snowboard, scrape off all the snow, and replace it so that it is once again flush with the surface of the snow.

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Classroom Lab Work

  1. Snow Depth: Calculate the average snow depth from your field measurements or enter the field data in the spreadsheet available in the Resource Room.
  2. Air Temperature: Calculate the average temperature for the week. (available in spreadsheet form in the Resource Room).
  3. New Snow: Calculate the average new snow readings taken from the snowboard (available in spreadsheet form in the Resource Room).
  4. Water/Snow Ratio: You may choose to have your students calculate the water/snow ratio by hand, or use the spreadsheet provided in the Resource Room. In either case, you will need the following data:
    1. Depth of new snow taken from the snowboard (nearest mm).
    2. Diameter of the coffee can to calculate volume of snow (nearest mm).
    3. Once the snow has melted, carefully pour it into a graduated cylinder to measure its volume in milliliters. If there is more meltwater than the capacity of your graduated cylinder, you may have to fill it, pour the water into another container , and pour into the cylinder again.
  5. Spreadsheet: Enter the snow depth (from the snowboard), diameter of the coffee can and volume of the melted water into the spreadsheet. The water content, expressed as a ratio of water to snow will be calculated to report on the online Report Data page
  6. Manual Calculation: Calculate the volume of the snow with the following formula:
    1. Volume(snow)=Depth(new snow) x pi(Diameter(coffee can) ÷ 2)2
    2. Measure the volume of the melted water in a graduated cylinder.
    3. Water Content = Volume (water) ÷ Volume (snow)
  7. Report the average snow depth, average weekly temperature, and water/snow ratio on the SNOW Report Data page

Weekly Activities

  1. Follow the directions for the weekly activity focus and report on the website.

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