Lesson Plan

3D Snowflakes

Students learn about how snowflakes are formed and design their own unique snowflakes using 3D modeling software.
Melissa P.
Media specialist/librarian
Currey Ingram Academy (Brentwood, TN)
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Students will be able to explain how weather conditions affect the formation of snowflakes. Students will design (and 3D print) their own snowflakes using their knowledge of snowflake molecular structure.

Grades 3 – 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Reading

Read the Caldecott-winning book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Discuss the difficulty in capturing snowflakes and the contributions Wilson Bentley made to the understanding of snowflakes. There are some of Bentley's photographs in the book and you can find more online.

2 Direct Instruction

Watch the BrainPOP video on snowflakes to learn about how snowflakes are formed and how weather and other conditions affect their shape.

3 Design Part 1

Activity: Drawing

Using paper and pencil, students will sketch a rough idea of what their snowflake will look like. Student must consider if their snowflake was formed in dry/wet conditions, hot/cold conditions, etc. as they plan the design.

4 Design Part 2

Using 3D modeling software, students will create a 3D model of their snowflake. If students have never used 3D modeling software, you will need teach this skill first. With my students, I use 123D Design on iPads and Tinkercad on computers (depending on which the students have access to).

5 Wrap-Up

Activity: Presenting

If you have access to a 3D printer, print their snowflakes. (I found 2-3 mm to be the ideal thickness.) A little fishing line helps make a magical display. If you can't 3D print the snowflakes, print the images on paper or post the 3D models online. Give students the opportunity to share their snowflakes with others. If you have a class blog or class social media account, share the project with others. Everyone loves snowflakes.