Happy National Make a Paper Snowflake Day (or National Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day for the purists)!
I don’t remember why I stumbled on this holiday this year, but I thought it would be a really good time to remind everyone that snowflakes are a pretty cool (no pun intended) basis for a math lesson. My sister-in-law teaches high school math and informs me that this is an excellent thing to give kids to do right before winter break. I’m probably a little late for that, but just in case you’re looking for some resources, here are some good ones I’ve found:
- Khan Academy Math for Fun and Glory If you ever thought the problem with snowflake cutting is that it wasn’t technical enough, then this short video is for you. Part of a bigger series that is pretty fun to work through, this video is a great intro to how to cut a mathematically/anatomically(?) correct snowflake.
- Computer snowflake models There’s some interesting science behind computer snowflake models, and this site takes you through some of the most advanced programs for doing so. It seems like a fun exercise, but apparently modeling crystal growth has some pretty interesting applications. Gallery of images here, and an overview of the mathematical models here.
- Uniqueness of snowflakes Back in the real world, there’s an interesting and raging debate over the whole “no two snowflakes are alike” thing. According to this article, “Yes, with a caution”, “Likely but unprovable” or “it depends on what you mean by unique” are all acceptable answers.
- Online snowflake maker If you’re desperate to try out some of the math lessons you just learned but can’t find your scissors, this online snowflake generator has you covered.
- Other winter math If you’re still looking for more ideas, check out this list of winter related math activities. In addition to snowflake lessons around symmetry, patterns and Koch snowflakes, they have penguin and snowman math.