Science of the Winter Olympics: Science of Snow

SUPERCOOL! More than just an expression, this state of water figures prominently in snow formation. Find out more about snow and how snow conditions might impact winter Olympians whose gold medals are inextricably linked to this frozen base material. Sarah Konrad—a glaciologist and a former Olympian—gives us a unique perspective on the Science of Snow, from the video series developed by NBC Learn and NSF.

As a northerner who’s been transplanted to mid-Florida, where it’s 85°F as I write, I’m actually quite jealous of those of you who can use the NSTA-developed lesson plans with REAL snow. Get your students designing a way to keep snow frozen until next winter, just as they’ve done at Sochi!

The Science and Engineering of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games is available cost-free on www.NBCLearn.com and www.science360.gov. Download the lesson plans below in editable Word format. It’s just a few more days until the February 7 start of the games, so take a quick look for suggestions of how to pull the games into your instruction.

BTW, you might have experience with supercooled fluids and not realized it. Ever pull your favorite “long-neck” beverage out of the frig, open it, and set it down rather hard on the counter, only to have it completely freeze up? Right. Super cool!

 

Video

Science of Snow discusses the formation of snow, its modification after accumulating on the ground, and how these factors affect conditions for winter sports.

Lesson Plans

Science of Snow Integration Guide spells out the STEM in video and gives you mini-activities and ideas for research, teamwork, projects, and interdisciplinary connections.

Science of Snow Inquiry Guide models a science inquiry into the packability and moisture content of snow AND models an engineering design inquiry in which students design storage systems for maintaining snow over long periods of time.

Image of a snowflake, courtesy of Stuart Williams.

Image of USA Press Officer Doug Haney on a slope at the Rosa Khutor Ski Resort where the alpine skiing events will be held, courtesy of Tom Kelly.

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