SchoolArts Magazine

February 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 36 of 54

32 FEBRUARY 2016 SchoolArts M I D D L E S C H O O L E ntering into the winter months, my stu- dents and I long for the appearance of snow. In Tennessee, the elusive wintry flakes are always a rare and welcome surprise. Capturing this excitement and mix - ing it with a little scientific background, my students and I enjoy learning about snow crystals by creating clay-relief sculptures and transforming them into mugs ready for hot chocolate. What Are Snowflakes? In science class, students discover that all mat- ter is composed of individual atoms. In art class, we look at snow crystals and learn about their atomic structure. Students learn that dust parti- cles high up in the clouds are coated with hydro- gen and oxygen atoms, forming water which then freezes. As the water molecules freeze, they take the form of microscopic hexagons, creating crystals around the dust particles. As further molecules attach to the surface and freeze, the crystalline structure grows larger and larger. This process continues until the snowflake is heavy enough to fall to the ground. Depending on the temperature at which the snow crys- tals form, they take the shape of rods, needles, plates, or feathery stars. Snow & Mary Ann McGinley Clay Cr ls

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