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Snowflakes

We see plenty of snow in the U.K. over winter. We see even more snow in films and movies! So I'm sure you all know exactly what shape a snowflake is, right? How many points does a snowflake have? Is there a hole in the middle? Well it turns out there are rules for snowflakes - keep them in mind next time you're cutting out paper snowflakes!

Check out this video to see what we mean.

Make a Snowflake

You Will Need:

Recreate it:

You'll need to fold your paper in a special way to get a snowflake. The templates can help you with that! Once you've folded up your paper until it is just one triangle, cut out a snowflake shape. Remember not to cut out a hole in the middle! Unfold it to reveal your six pointed snowflake!

How does it work?

Snowflakes form in clouds and are made of water. The water freezes in a special way that will always make six points. But water is bad at organising itself so a bit of dust has to come along and help out. The dust will always be in the middle of the snowflake and that means it can't have a hole in the middle!

Tiny tiny droplets of water collect in clouds and as the temperature drops and gets cold enough to freeze water, these droplets start to stick together. Once these collections of frozen droplets gets large and heavy enough they will fall as snow. To get big and heavy enough these droplets have to freeze and form around dust.

The reason for the six points comes from simple geometry. If we take circular objects and try and arrange them so that one of the objects is in the middle and the others are all touching around the outside of that first one you'll find that exactly six fit in that outer circle. So there will be one in the middle, and six more around that perfectly touching. If the objects are all the same size, it doesn't matter how big or small these objects are - the six-around-one-in-the-middle rule will always be true. That's where the six points in our snowflake come from - there is one blob of frozen water in the middle and we can fit six more around it and that six-fold symmetry goes outwards from there!

More winter resources

You can have a look at the rest of our wintery resources here.