Fake Snow STEM Lesson

This is especially fun with younger kids, but even older ones will love it. There a few recipes for fake snow, so one way to incorporate a cross-curricular lesson is to make all the recipes and see which is the best; use charts and graphs to show results, and then write a compare and contrast essay. You could even allow older students to engage in a debate if they don’t all agree on which is the best.

Start out by defining what makes good snow; this may be a stretch for those of us here in Texas and other warm places, but tell them to use their imaginations. What would they like to be able to do with snow if they were able to play in it: have a snowball fight; make a snowman; make snow angels; throw it up in the air and watch it fall back down. In addition to these qualities, have them describe physical properties of snow, such as the color, the temperature, the look, and the feel. These are all good things to “test” with each different kind of fake snow.

Recipe 1 – baking soda and shaving cream
Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of shaving cream. Mix with a fork. Add a few drops of water until the mixture takes on a snow-like appearance. You may need to add a little more water or baking soda depending on the humidity of your room.

Recipe 2 – baking soda and conditioner
Mix 2 1/2 cups of baking soda with 1/2 cup of white conditioner.

Recipe 3
Purchase Insta-Snow from Steve Spangler’s site. Place a teaspoon of Insta-Snow powder in a small container. The snow will grow to 100 times its original size, so make sure there is plenty of room in the container. Add 2 ounces of water. Watch the snow magically expand before your eyes. You might need to mix it up a bit with a fork to distribute the water evenly. Then watch what happens!

Recipe 4
If you’re looking for an additional recipe to compare, try subbing the baking soda in recipe 1 with corn starch. How is it the same? How is it different? Why? (For older students, you could explain the chemical reactions of the different products.

Be sure to explain the science behind weather and snow if age appropriate.

STEM breakdown:
Science – use of scientific inquiry and a series of “tests” and experiments to determine the best fake snow; chemical reactions and polymers with Insta-Snow; the science behind weather and snow

Technology – research how polymers are used in our lives today (these exact polymers are used in diapers)

Math – measurement of ingredients; creation and analyzation of charts and graphs; symmetry of snowflakes