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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.

26 Comments on Catch a snowflake and keep it forever

  1. wow I might try that. awsome

  2. introesting

  3. super duper duper eagle scout // May 29, 2008 at 8:08 am // Reply


  4. natitonic // May 9, 2008 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    if only it snowed in arizona :/ 😦

  5. oooh… aaah…

  6. i think it looks like fun i cant wate to tell my Dad

  7. Awesome cant wait to try it

  8. Master Scouter // April 22, 2008 at 2:05 pm // Reply

    This is so awesome. How did the author figure this process out?

  9. Awesome!!

  10. nobody put // March 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm // Reply


  11. rtfjytjutyijuyiu // March 25, 2008 at 7:47 am // Reply


  12. This is so cool! I know I’m going to try this!

  13. super nerd man // March 24, 2008 at 8:18 am // Reply

    well technicaly, the atoms are arranged in hexagons when water is frozen

  14. that is amazing!!

  15. COOL!

  16. pokemonwiz5397 // February 27, 2008 at 5:17 pm // Reply

    i never knew you could do that! 🙂

  17. $$$$$$RichMan$$$$$$$$$$$ // February 21, 2008 at 10:55 pm // Reply

    old snow flakes might be woth a lot of money in the future.

  18. big simpson fan [you know who I am JF] // February 21, 2008 at 10:49 pm // Reply

    that would be cool keeping the oldest snowflake in the world and you might get in Guiness World records book and you could sell it for a lot of money mabey at that the time they wont have any snow and it would be worth even more!

  19. Bartholemew Jay Simpson [Bart Simpson] // February 21, 2008 at 10:37 pm // Reply

    thats awesome how it doesent melt when you putt it in glass.

  20. Catch a snowflake and keep it forever was awesome !!!!!!!

  21. two snowflakes could be alik for example a snow flake in virginia could be the same as one in japan but not be known

  22. Its so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. get it?

  24. COOL!!!!!!!

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