Teaching Aid Wish List: November 2019

  • Snowflake crystals will be the November teaching model! @Skitz1843 , we will work with you to tie these models to a next generation science standard so that they can serve many teachers and nature interpreters.

  • Great! Whoot!
    What do you have in mind?

  • @Skitz1843 Hello Skitz1843! Not sure, but will research a few diverse kinds of snow crystal forms and get designing. Do you have any ideas how to link this to a teaching standard, preferably a Next Generation Science Standard? This may be more of a nature interpretation model, and that is okay as well.

  • Another thought regarding this model---there may be something in the physics/chemistry realm to do with water bonding into crystal form that would allow this to meet a teaching standard as well as an interpretative standard. What do you think?

  • How do you build a water crystal, i.e., snowflake, from the ground up? Start with a water molecule! I am going to use this winning model as a vehicle to develop a lesson on hydrogen bonding and crystal formation. Of course, if you just want to skip to the end result, that is fine as well.
    As a first sneak peak, I give you the water molecule complete with hydrogen bonds at precisely 104.5 degrees to each other. Next up, the basic crystal building block.

  • Why do snow flakes tend to form as 6-armed stars? Because of the way that the water molecules bond. This image is the basic building block of a water crystal. Note that there are 3 molecules in each of two orientations. This form then repeats in various ways to create the larger ice crystal or snow flake. Keep watching here for the next step---the larger crystalline structure.
    In the meantime, how would you like to have these models? As separate models or as 3-d features each sticking out of a single plate, as we did with the butterfly life cycle?

  • Here is the basic sub-unit of a water crystal that forms snowflakes or ice. The blue and grey molecules designate two separate rings of 6 molecules each bonded one above the other.

  • So how do we take students from 12 water molecules to a snowflake? We first superimpose a simplified model of the 12-molecule sub-unit, a hexagonal prism.


    Then, we use this crystal sub-unit to start building the ice crystal. Note that there are 8 faces onto which the second sub-unit can be bonded. Building straight outward from these faces will result in "spines" that are either 60 degrees apart in a single plane, or 90 degrees to that same plane and perpendicular to it. This shows why snowflakes tend to have 6 spines on them. It also explains why ice crystals forming, for example, on a flat surface in a freezer will have the occasional spine that goes straight out from the surface.

  • We have the final sub-model created, the snowflake. We will get these assembled and written up very soon. Look for the new teaching aid model for hydrogen bonding -- ice crystalization -- snowflake formation coming soon!

  • The hydrogen bonding -- water crystallization -- snowflake formation model is complete! In one downloadable package there will be the complete sequence in a single model (shown below) and separate models for each stage. The one-page document on lesson plan ideas and NGSS standards still needs to be finalized, but this all be ready for you to try out in a few days. Send feedback, and remember to vote for next months model!
    Yours in STEM,
    The S.o.S. Team.


© 2019 The Shape of Science