Friday, December 23, 2022

Short Lessons on How Snow is Made

My oldest daughter is super excited to start her third year of ski lessons this winter. I'm also very excited about it because I'm going to be giving ski lessons at our local ski mountain. While we've had some snowstorms this winter, we wouldn't have nearly as much area to ski on if it weren't for artificial snow. Still we would prefer to have real snow because, as every skier knows, natural snow is better than man-made snow. What is the difference? And how is snow made? Those questions are answered in the following videos.

How to Make Snow (If You're Not Elsa) is a short video produced by SciShow that explains how snow is made at ski resorts by using cooled water and compressed air.

Reactions, a YouTube channel that produces lots of science videos, has a short video that explains how snowflakes are naturally created.

The National Science Foundation has a neat video that explains how high speed cameras capture images of snowflakes forming. The video then goes on to explain why some snow is light and fluffy while other snow feels wet and heavy. (Jump to the 4:25 mark to get to the section about the formation of snowflakes).

On a related note, How to Survive the Snow and Ice is a compilation video published on the Reactions YouTube channel. The video features segments about how snow (both natural and man-made) is formed, how ice is made, why saltwater takes longer to freeze than freshwater, and why kitty litter is better than regular sand for getting traction on ice.

Tracking Santa and Programming With Santa

My kids are home from school today as this is the first day of their winter vacation. The level of anticipation for Santa's arrival is quite high (my kids are five and six). One of the things they may do today is track Santa and play some Santa-themed games on Google's Santa Tracker website

One of the many games and activities available on Google's Santa Tracker website is the Santa Tracker Code LabSanta Tracker Code Lab has fourteen levels that kids can work through as they apply some basic programming concepts. The Santa Tracker Code Lab starts with simple skills like matching pieces to an outline before moving into programming a full animation with logic blocks similar to those that you might find in Scratch. Don't let the term "programming" make you think that the activities are too techy for you. My five and six year old daughters can do them. 

NORAD also has a Santa Tracker website and mobile apps that you and your kids can use to track Santa's progress on Christmas Eve. The site includes an interactive map of Santa-themed traditions around the world. I'll be exploring that map with my kids. 

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