A HappiMess Holiday Craft
 
Every snowflake is unique, but sometimes it’s hard to tell because they melt so fast: Before you’ve had a chance to really examine them, they’re already gone! Share a bit of science with your little ones this holiday season with this messy, fun craft. They’ll finally have the chance to examine a snowflake up close and to see the magic of water at work.
 
What You’ll Need:
 
  • Boiling water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Pipe cleaners, cut to 5-inch length
  • String
  • A pencil
  • A jar
  • Borax
  • Wire cutters (optional)
 
What to Do:
 
  1. Start by twisting 3 of the 5-inch pipe cleaners to make a snowflake. You can make a simple snowflake with a few twists. If you want a more elaborate flake, use the wire cutters to cut a few 1 ½-inch pieces of pipe cleaner to add to each arm of the snowflake.
  2. Tie a few inches of string to the snowflake. Tie a pencil to the other end of the string; this will help suspend the snowflake.
  3. Find a big enough jar that the dangling snowflake will fit inside easily and won’t touch the sides. Once you’re sure it’ll fit, remove the snowflake.
  4. Fill the jar with 3 tablespoons of Borax and 1 drop of blue food coloring for every cup of boiling water you use. Stir to make sure all the Borax dissolves in the hot water.
  5. Hang the snowflake in the jar, suspended in the liquid. Let it sit overnight and then remove and admire your sparkly creation.
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Explain the Science
 
When the Borax and water mixed together, they created a suspension of Borax. A suspension is a liquid mixture that contains solid particles large enough to settle, but nearly too small to see. The heat of the water keeps the Borax suspended longer than it would be in cold or room-temperature water.
 
Molecules of hot water move faster than cold water. As the solution cools, the molecules slow down and move closer together, meaning there is less room for the dissolved Borax (also known as sodium borate). As the suspension cools, the Borax molecules settle and bond with other Borax molecules anywhere there is an appropriate spot (like the pipe cleaner and string). They slowly begin to crystalize and will continue to do so until you pull the snowflake out of the water the next day.
 
Have your kids help create this magic craft by letting them bend the pipe cleaners, carefully pour the water (if they’re old enough to handle a kettle), add the food coloring and hang the snowflake in the jar. They’ll be amazed at the change that happens overnight and will be proud to have created an ornament to hang on the tree and to show holiday visitors. That’s all there is to it, now you know how to make borax snowflakes! Be sure to share the messy fun with us on social media, we’d love to see your snowflake creations.