Resources for Science: Constellation Videos

As we are learning about constellations this week, we ran across this YouTube video you might also find helpful in your science class. ScienceOnline, who produces this video, has an entire series of similar videos.

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Preschool Science: More on the Moon

Last week I posted about studying the moon in Alpha Omega Horizons preschool. We are still wrapping up study on the moon, and I thought it interesting to point out that right away we went from a fuzzy grasp of the concept of “half of something” to a solid understanding as soon as we looked at half of a moon.

As we have been notating the weather on our calendar, we added a little sketch of the stage of the moon (helpful if you have a calendar that has one on it already). My little preschooler saw a half of a moon on the paper then ran to the window to report that is what he saw!  Lightbulb on!

It marks the beginning of an understanding of fractions, something I am not starting to teach deliberately, but which we will start to introduce as we run across it: “Can you eat half this pizza?” “Share half of your cookie with your brother”, etc.

He also right away grasped the concepts of crescent moons and waxing and waning, which we try to use in ordinary speak if possible. Although that’s a tricky one. Try it..

A fun activity we did at Alpha Omega’s prescription was to draw a picture of a suitcase of things to be taken on a trip to the moon. What a great imaginative activity!

Here is what my little guy packed for the moon:

We have:

  • an apple to eat
  • some grapes
  • his puppy to sleep with, and his brother’s bunny
  • a tent so he can sleep on the moon
  • some track, in case he wants to play trains on the moon
  • and a juice box to drink

With suitcase in hand, we pretended to blast off in our space ship, supplemented by a youtube video showing the shuttle cockpit during launch to fuel the imagination. We flipped switches and communicated with mission control.

We flew to the moon, pretending to experience high G forces for launch and then we got out and walked around the moon, experiencing lighter G forces as we bounced along and drove our moon car.

We talked about what gravity was, and that we have 1G here, 1/6 G on the moon (more fractions!) and several Gs during launch if you are an astronaut.

And another fun thing: we ate moon lunch with crescent shaped peaches and phases of the moon sandwiches. Of course, the juice box had to be there because he had “packed” it to take to the moon!

I decided we need to incorporate more crafts in our homeschool. Anyone have any moon craft ideas? Leave a comment and spell it out for us- I’m craft-challenged!

Be sure to go check out the rest of the Hip Homeschool Hop, at its new location at the Hip Homeschool Moms new website!

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Everyday Science: Snowflakes

Snowflake photo through compound microscope by Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, from

Snow. It’s that time of year. Some of us have received a whole bunch so far this winter, and others… none at all. Still, everyone knows about snow. When it’s warm and the clouds come, it rains. If it gets cold enough… it snows.

Snow is the result of the saturated clouds of water vapor whose droplets of water attach themselves to ice particles. They attach and they freeze. Frozen ice particles grow when they encounter more water vapor. Sometimes they mix with other particulate such as dirt, smog, dust.

When the frozen ice particles grow so big that their weight is too heavy to be tossed about within the cloud, they fall out of it. Another way to say this is that the fall speed of the ice particle exceeds the upward air drafts within the cloud.

Note that for the snow to hit the ground as snow and not rain, the temperature all the way down must be below about 32° F. That snowflake has to stay below freezing or it will turn to rain. Even if it is above freezing where you sit, at ground level, if the majority of the air on the way up to the snow cloud was below freezing, chances are that snowflake will remain a snowflake long enough for it to hit the ground.

And the shape of a snowflake? It has six sides, a function of the molecular composition of the snowflake. Snow is water, and the H2O molecule consists of a central oxygen atom with two hydrogen atoms joined to it on either side at 104.5° angles. This V-shape with a negatively charged oxygen atom and positively charged hydrogen atoms means that additional water molecules that attach will do so in a particular shape. A 6-sided one.

It follows that larger snowflakes are formed in higher water-vapor conditions within the snow cloud. Smaller more compact snowflakes mean lower water vapor content aloft.

The actual shape of a snowflake can even be predicted by the temperature, as seen on this chart from

  • 32-25° F – Thin hexagonal plates
  • 25-21° F – Needles
  • 21-14° F – Hollow columns
  • 14-10° F – Sector plates (hexagons with indentations)
  • 10-3° F – Dendrites (lacy hexagonal shapes) 

As an activity, you can bundle up and head outside and see what shapes of snowflakes you can find.  Take this printable resource with you on snowflake types (or leave it inside and come back and refer to it over a hot cup of cocoa).  And for more fun activities and resources check

    For fascinating reading about Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley and his snowflake photography, check out the website here.

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