Snowflakes and Bubbles

Supports National Curriculum, Key Stages 1 and 2, Units 4D, 5C and 5D
Suitable for years 4, 5 and 6

The time for the session is approximately 1 hour. The length of the session can be varied by modifying the PowerPoint presentation once downloaded.

Outline of content
Aims to:

  • Establish what the children already know, using a demonstration
  • Explain differences between solids and liquids (different materials change from liquid to solid at different temperatures)
  • Solids remember how they grew
  • There are two types of frozen water, formed in different ways: a) snow and b) ice
    a) formation of snowflakes using an on-line computer simulation
    b) formation of (close packed) crystalline solids using a game and bubble rafts
  • Bubbles are very different to either water or air because they are a sandwich
  • Special solids can be grown using MB (Molecular Beam Epitaxy) which are used in computer chips etc.

Points to note:

Please read the notes about risks and agree the assessment with the teacher before the session!

Cross References

  • The slides in the PowerPoint presentation (4.8 MB) are referenced in the plan.
  • As the presentation may be running throughout the session some simple slides provide a suitable background, alternatively switch to a black screen.
  • Apparatus details are linked to the relevant sections.
  • Notes about safety are included with the actitivties.
  • Vocabulary: The presentation uses expressions included in the KS 1 and 2 strategies
  • (NB. It also uses terms not introduced until KS 3.)

Misconceptions to be corrected

  • Crystal surfaces are not formed naturally.
  • Ice, snow and water are different materials.
  • Solids such as crystals cannot be melted.
  • Freezing and melting are not reversible.
  • Children often confuse melting and dissolving. This presentation explains melting.

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