Science Explorers
Science Explorers

Weather conditions like snow storms and frost on window panes can seem downright magical. But winter weather has its basis in science, not fantasy.

Kids appreciate understanding more about the science behind snow and other wintry phenomena. Below are some tips to get started for parents and teachers.

Have a Discussion About Snow

You probably remember the first snowfall each year when you were a child. You couldn’t stop looking outside at the glistening flakes falling from the sky. Today, kids are just as mesmerized by snow.

Leverage your little one’s fascination with snow by taking the time to explain this form of precipitation to them from a simplified scientific perspective. For instance, ask your students or children if the air is cold or warm when it’s snowing. (It’s cold, of course!) Explain that snow forms when water vapor from the clouds freezes and mixes with dust particles in the sky in temperatures of around 32 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

Then, you can talk about the other ways moisture reacts under chilly wintertime conditions. You can mention sleet, which is when rain freezes before it hits the ground, or blizzards, which occur when cold air settles near the earth’s surface because it’s trapped by warm air above. 

Build a Winter Vocabulary Chart

As you’re teaching kids about winter weather, construct a vocabulary chart filled with scientific and practical terms. When you discuss and learn a new term such as “freezing rain” or “water vapor,” ask a child to add it to the list.

Creating a vocabulary chart serves several purposes:

  • It allows you to review useful terms regularly so kids become familiar with them. 
  • Vocabulary gives kids a better understanding of how to talk about the winter weather they experience. 
  • This chart helps children see how much they’ve learned about the science behind winter weather. 

As a bonus, it’s a wonderful visual reminder in any home or classroom!

Talk About the Earth’s Tilt

Many of us take the change in temperature between fall and winter for granted, but kids may not understand the principles behind the changing seasons. Even a child who loves learning about the weather may not realize that the tilt of the earth causes seasonal weather patterns. In essence, the axis that runs through the earth isn’t straight up and down. Therefore, the earth can be seen as “leaning.”

If possible, try to find a model of the sun, earth and moon. You may even want to make one using a kit or by hand. A model will help you explain the earth’s tilt in a way that kids can comprehend. Be sure to mention that not all places on earth experience four seasons. Children may not realize that cities near the equator have summer weather year-round, whereas places near the earth’s poles experience near-constant winter.

Conduct a Few Science-Based Cold Weather Experiments

One way to help your child or students grasp why winter weather and snow happen is to conduct experiments. Some fun choices include:

  • During cold weather, have kids dress warmly and blow bubbles outside to see if they freeze.
  • Let a watermelon or other melon freeze overnight and then allow your kids to “bowl” with it to show how freezing hardens it to the core.
  • Fill a bucket with snow and ask kids to predict how much water will be left after the snow melts. (Hint: They’ll be shocked at how little water is in every snowflake!)

Learn About Winter Weather With Science Explorers

Above all else, make the weather an opportunity to introduce more STEM subjects into your children’s lives. You can even sign them up for one of our virtual or in-person after-school STEM clubs for an added boost of science fun!

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