I live in California and not the mountainous part of California, so I don't actually see snowflakes.  Still, we like to imagine our snowy winter.

We decorate the room with three-dimensional snowflakes (made on rainy days when I can entice some students to help on breaks). With a little winter inspiration, we put the math into snowflakes with a linear equation project and snowflake STEM challenge.

First, students select from three snowflakes.  The challenge is to determine the linear equation of all the parts to construct the snowflake.  For students who have not yet worked with equations, they can simply determine the slope.  Even for the students focused on the slope, I challenge them to see if they could determine to write an equation for at least one of the lines (this is inquiry at its best).

To practice graphing skills, students are given linear equations that they graph to reveal a mystery snowflake.

To bring it all together, students design their own snowflakes by writing linear equations.  As am added extension, students exchange snowflakes and determine the equations for their partner's snowflake.  I use this project for practice or assessment depending on where students are in the unit, and students love it.

This year one of my teaching assignments is an integrated math class, as such, I had the opportunity to bring in additional statistics project which involved collecting and analyzing data.  The challenge: Make a snowflake that falls the slowest (or the fastest).  Students brainstormed about the effects of surface area on the rate the snowflakes would fall.  We designed our snowflakes, measured their flight times, evaluated and designed more snowflakes.  We repeated this several time.  Of course, all the data was collected, graphed and analyzed.  It was great fun to be able to add this extra extension, and now we have even more snowflakes to add some holiday cheer!

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Math Mondays
is a bi-weekly blog post (2nd and 4th Monday of each month) sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should include, you can leave me a message in the comments section below or at the store in the question and answer section.