Snowflake Bentley

Symmetry, Photography and Invention

4th graders will learn about inventor, scientist and photography Willson Bentley. In the 1880s, Bentley invented a way to combine a camera and a microscope. He took his invention out in the cold Vermont winter, and photographed snowflakes. He was the first person to photograph snowflakes, and he was the one who discovered that each snowflake is unique.
Snowflake mysteries unlocked by photographer
Snowflake Bentley Read Aloud

Questions:

What did Willson Bentley invent?

What did he discover?

What questions do you have?

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Bentley's snowflake photos

These are photos of real snowflakes. Willson Bentley used his camera and microscope to take these photos.


What do you notice about these snowflakes?

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Each snowflake is a hexagon, a six-sided shape. Each snowflake has radial symmetry - all the branches are identical.

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Glue snowflakes to background paper or take them home unmounted

  • use glue stick, white glue applied with a brush or spray glue.

4th grade snowflake mural

Please create two coffee filter snowflakes using the instructions below. You may also look at the snowflake pattern sheet on your table.



  1. Turn in your snowflakes in the cardboard box.
  2. Be sure to put your scraps in the trash bin on your table.
  3. You will not get these snowflakes back. We will laminate all the snowflakes to create a clear mural we can hang in the window.


WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED IN YOUR SNOWFLAKES, YOU MAKE MAKE YOUR OWN TO TAKE HOME USING COFFEE FILTERS OR COPY PAPER.

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Differentiation:

  • pre-fold a few coffee filters, both as samples and for students who cannot independently fold
  • assign student pairs to support each other
  • draw and shade in a design on the folded coffee filter in pencil. Ask the student to cut away the shaded area.
  • train an expert at each table.
How To Make Picture Perfect Paper Snowflakes.