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Snow Crystals DLESE Reviewed Collection
This site describes snow crystals and snowflakes. Although a common meteorological phenomenon, snow crystal growth is a fascinating and poorly understood process, in which remarkably complex and beautifully symmetric structures appear, quite literally, out of thin air. The many facets of snow crystals are described here, along with the attempts to understand their formation. Site highlights include research on creating designer snow crystals in the laboratory, the history of early snow crystal observations, snow crystal photography, properties of frozen precipitation, and a snow crystal primer for a short course in snow crystal physics - what snow crystals are, how they form, and why they form the way they do. Information is offered on snow crystal classification, preservation, and unusual crystal forms. An extensive image gallery of lab-created crystal forms is available, with enlargeable thumbnail images. There are even instructions for users on how to create crystals. This could be made into a classroom activity, as the science of the growth is explained. Snowflake Physics discusses diffusion, dendrite growth, ice surface physics, electric growth, and ice properties. A vast list of related links is also provided.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Intermediate (3-5)
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
  • College (15-16)
  • Graduate / Professional
  • General public
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Field activity
  • Visual:
    • Illustration - scientific
    • Photograph
    • Video
  • Text:
    • Ref. material
  • Atmospheric science
  • Cryology
  • Physics
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
All the images created by the author (and collaborators) can be used by anyone, for any purpose, at no cost. However, many images throughout the web site were derived from other sources. The latter images are all cited with their sources. All images in the Galleries are original. If unsure whether a particular image is a site original, send e-mail to the site author. If you do reproduce some images, it is asked that you include a citation (e.g. Kenneth Libbrecht, Caltech), or better yet a reference to this web site.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-000-874
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Systems, order, and organization
      • B - Physical science:
        • Properties and changes of properties in matter
    • 9-12:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Systems, order, and organization
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Author: Dr Kenneth G. Libbrecht
California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Physics Department