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Catch a Snowflake and Keep It Forever

Snowflakes are among nature’s most beautiful and short-lived creations. Yet there is a way to preserve these fragile wonders to study or admire them anytime you wish. You and a group of your friends can do this project with about $20 worth of supplies available at any art store. (And you’ll need a snowstorm.)


What You’ll Need:

  • Two sheets of clear acetate (available in single sheets or in packages) for each person
  • “Crystal Clear” acrylic coating (a spray-on plastic artists use to protect illustrations)
  • Pieces of cardboard large enough to cover each acetate sheet
  • Two clothespins per person
  • Enough cardboard boxes or empty coolers to cover all the cardboard sheets

What You’ll Do:

snow1.jpgStep 1: Stash the acetate and cardboard sheets in the freezer. Turn the box or cooler upside down outdoors. Place can of acrylic outside to cool.

snow2.jpgStep 2: Once it starts to snow, take the acetate and cardboard from the freezer and head outside. Duck under a porch or overhang to protect everything from falling snow. With clothespins, fasten a single sheet of acetate to a piece of cardboard. Spray the acetate sheet with a thin coat of acrylic from the air-chilled can. (If you use too much, the snow will melt in the liquid.)

snow3.jpgStep 3: Hold up the contraption by the clothespins and step out in the falling snow so that individual flakes collect on the acetate sheet. You’ll want a lot, but not so many that they begin to fall on top of one another.

snow4.jpgStep 4: Once you have enough, carefully tuck the sheet under the cardboard box or cooler.

snow5.jpgStep 5: After an hour, the snowflakes that stuck to the acetate will have evaporated, leaving behind perfect acrylic replicas. Hold the acetate up to a light and scan the sheet with a magnifying glass or an 8X slide viewer. You may also project the crystalline images onto a screen with an overhead projector.


  • Snowflakes form when water vapor freezes around tiny bits of dust in the air. No dust, no snowflakes.
  • Scientists have identified 10 types, including graupel (granular) flakes, as well as sleet and hail. The other seven varieties are the more familiar crystal shapes.
  • No two snowflakes are alike? In the mid-1980’s, a scientist found snowflakes that were extremely similar 20,000 feet in the air above Wisconsin.
  • Snow crystals are always six-sided, because the atoms in water molecules are arranged in triangles.
  • The exact size and shape of a snowflake depend on the temperature, moisture content in the air and how much time it has to grow before hitting the ground—or your acetate sheet.

10 Comments on Catch a Snowflake and Keep It Forever

  1. BenjaminTieGuy // January 25, 2016 at 7:40 pm // Reply

    If only it snowed in Sunny San Diego…

  2. don’t think i can do that down here in Houston 🙂

  3. Lord of the Rings // January 1, 2016 at 4:43 pm // Reply

    oh my

  4. with the good weather we’re having in Wisconsin it’ll be snowing in Miami

  5. cool

  6. The weather is weird here. 😄 It’s 60 degrees now, but will be 12 degrees in a week.

  7. This Stinks. // January 3, 2015 at 9:11 am // Reply

    Yeah, so I read this and I thought, well this would be a excellent idea, except for the fact that I live in the hottest state…………..FLORIDA! On the twenty fifth of December, it was 80 degrees outside?!?!??!

  8. cool

  9. says says says says // November 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm // Reply

    it s not snowing

  10. I tried this with high hopes, and it did not work for me. 😦

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