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Catch a Snowflake and Keep It Forever

Snowflakes are among nature’s most beautiful and short-lived creations. Yet there is a way to preserve these fragile wonders to study or admire them anytime you wish. You and a group of your friends can do this project with about $20 worth of supplies available at any art store. (And you’ll need a snowstorm.)


What You’ll Need:

  • Two sheets of clear acetate (available in single sheets or in packages) for each person
  • “Crystal Clear” acrylic coating (a spray-on plastic artists use to protect illustrations)
  • Pieces of cardboard large enough to cover each acetate sheet
  • Two clothespins per person
  • Enough cardboard boxes or empty coolers to cover all the cardboard sheets

What You’ll Do:

snow1.jpgStep 1: Stash the acetate and cardboard sheets in the freezer. Turn the box or cooler upside down outdoors. Place can of acrylic outside to cool.

snow2.jpgStep 2: Once it starts to snow, take the acetate and cardboard from the freezer and head outside. Duck under a porch or overhang to protect everything from falling snow. With clothespins, fasten a single sheet of acetate to a piece of cardboard. Spray the acetate sheet with a thin coat of acrylic from the air-chilled can. (If you use too much, the snow will melt in the liquid.)

snow3.jpgStep 3: Hold up the contraption by the clothespins and step out in the falling snow so that individual flakes collect on the acetate sheet. You’ll want a lot, but not so many that they begin to fall on top of one another.

snow4.jpgStep 4: Once you have enough, carefully tuck the sheet under the cardboard box or cooler.

snow5.jpgStep 5: After an hour, the snowflakes that stuck to the acetate will have evaporated, leaving behind perfect acrylic replicas. Hold the acetate up to a light and scan the sheet with a magnifying glass or an 8X slide viewer. You may also project the crystalline images onto a screen with an overhead projector.


  • Snowflakes form when water vapor freezes around tiny bits of dust in the air. No dust, no snowflakes.
  • Scientists have identified 10 types, including graupel (granular) flakes, as well as sleet and hail. The other seven varieties are the more familiar crystal shapes.
  • No two snowflakes are alike? In the mid-1980’s, a scientist found snowflakes that were extremely similar 20,000 feet in the air above Wisconsin.
  • Snow crystals are always six-sided, because the atoms in water molecules are arranged in triangles.
  • The exact size and shape of a snowflake depend on the temperature, moisture content in the air and how much time it has to grow before hitting the ground—or your acetate sheet.

62 Comments on Catch a Snowflake and Keep It Forever

  1. halo master chief // January 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm // Reply

    I got 2-3 ft. of snow today and didn’t even think about this.

  2. In Dc we got nothing big

  3. Aw dark,it stopped snowing blah gues i’ll have to wait till next year.

  4. Awesomely epic

  5. louis l'amour // December 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm // Reply

    i love it!!!!

  6. louis l'amour // December 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm // Reply

    that is so cool!!!!

  7. captian speaker // October 27, 2012 at 9:30 am // Reply

    last October it snowed crazily!

  8. so… where’s pedro? and hope it snows!!!

  9. Ninjabomb12 // May 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm // Reply

    hope it snows! last year there were no snow days

  10. kingguyquick31 // January 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm // Reply

    ):):):): never snows

  11. Thats cool I really want to try it.

  12. I want to try this so much but it doesn’t snow in California

    • Ilovesnowflakes // January 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm // Reply

      You can go to the mountains out there in Cali. When I lived in California my parents would take us to the mountains and she caught a snowflake! Wish I could have known bout this awesome technique then. Maybe I’ll go to a log cabin on snowy weather and do this one day!

    • Yeah. Cool, but too bad it doesn’t snow in CA

      • Smart Cat // October 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm //

        It snows in the mountains….. Tahoe for sure and local mountains like Mt. Diablo or whatever is closest to you

  13. AWESOME!!!!!

  14. Awesomedude // March 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm // Reply

    I’m sooo gonna try this!! good thing it’s still snowing 🙂

  15. God is SO Amazing! How cool to be able to observe His creation like this!

  16. I wish it snowed in California):):):):

  17. cool just need to wait till it snows 😀

  18. If it would only snow in California ):):):):):):):

  19. to bad all of the snow melted here in michigan

  20. this is awesome. I can’t wait till next year when it snows to try this

  21. i am going to share this with my art teacher!!
    this is so awesome !!! +_+

  22. cool its awesome


  23. CJADESOAR! // April 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm // Reply

    woah! this is the craziest thing…I did this a topic to my reasearch paper for my life goal and now i know it is possible i am going to try it!

  24. Crystal Jade // April 3, 2009 at 7:13 am // Reply

    this was one of my things that i had on my life list! and now it is possible!

  25. wow I might try that. awsome

  26. introesting

  27. super duper duper eagle scout // May 29, 2008 at 8:08 am // Reply


  28. natitonic // May 9, 2008 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    if only it snowed in arizona :/ 🙁

  29. oooh… aaah…

  30. i think it looks like fun i cant wate to tell my Dad

  31. Awesome cant wait to try it

  32. Master Scouter // April 22, 2008 at 2:05 pm // Reply

    This is so awesome. How did the author figure this process out?

  33. Awesome!!

  34. nobody put // March 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm // Reply


  35. rtfjytjutyijuyiu // March 25, 2008 at 7:47 am // Reply


  36. This is so cool! I know I’m going to try this!

  37. super nerd man // March 24, 2008 at 8:18 am // Reply

    well technicaly, the atoms are arranged in hexagons when water is frozen

  38. that is amazing!!

  39. COOL!

  40. pokemonwiz5397 // February 27, 2008 at 5:17 pm // Reply

    i never knew you could do that! 🙂

  41. $$$$$$RichMan$$$$$$$$$$$ // February 21, 2008 at 10:55 pm // Reply

    old snow flakes might be woth a lot of money in the future.

  42. big simpson fan [you know who I am JF] // February 21, 2008 at 10:49 pm // Reply

    that would be cool keeping the oldest snowflake in the world and you might get in Guiness World records book and you could sell it for a lot of money mabey at that the time they wont have any snow and it would be worth even more!

  43. Bartholemew Jay Simpson [Bart Simpson] // February 21, 2008 at 10:37 pm // Reply

    thats awesome how it doesent melt when you putt it in glass.

  44. Catch a snowflake and keep it forever was awesome !!!!!!!

  45. two snowflakes could be alik for example a snow flake in virginia could be the same as one in japan but not be known

  46. Its so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. get it?

  48. COOL!!!!!!!

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