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‘Tis the season to be snowy

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Snow and Tell at the Science Museum. Credit: Science Museum


‘Tis the season to be snowy… So the Families and Accessible Programmes Team is wrapping up the year with a host of fun-filled festive activities for the Christmas holidays. This winter, we’re performing our well-loved Festive Physics Christmas show, in which you can find out how reindeers can fly, why you might not like Brussels sprouts and what makes crackers crack. We have also developed a screen-printing workshop for families, to accompany our snowflake-making event, Snow and Tell.

As I’m sure you can imagine, lots of work goes into developing events for the thousands of visitors that come through our doors over the festive season, and we’re always looking to reinvigorate our workshops. In Snow and Tell, families try to make it snow in the Museum by creating unique paper snowflakes to take home and hang on their Christmas trees. The workshop is always fun, but we felt the science behind snowflakes was getting lost in the blizzard!

We thought introducing screen-printing as part of the workshop would make it appeal to a wider age range, and that it could also provide a creative way for people to take the science home with them.

As people tend to retain information well through rhyme, we composed the key messages as a poem:

Each snowflake starts off with six arms
But cold or heat or wind or calm
Can change the patterns that they make
So every single snowy flake
Is just as different as you and me
Yet they have perfect symmetry
And now you know how snowflakes grow
So see the science in the snow!

We then started designing different prints, incorporating the poem and snowflake images that we hoped to screen-print into a lovely A3 poster. Once we settled on a design, it was time to get our hands dirty and try out the printing process. BUT as soon as we tried it we realised you need long arms, and a fair amount of strength to press the ink through the screen and produce a clear A3 print! As our workshops are for families, we decided that a smaller A5 print was the way to go, and, as it is the appropriate season, it would be best taken home as a greeting card!

Screen printing at the Science Museum. Credit: Science Museum

Screen printing at the Science Museum. Credit: Science Museum

Unfortunately, the design we had settled on had too much text to print clearly on a smaller canvas. After some brainstorming, we decided that because real snowflakes are often too tiny, or melt far too quickly for us to get a good look, it would be wonderful to give our families a chance to see them up close. The amazing team at Screen Grab present workshops at our Lates events, and we knew that they could expose detailed macro photographic images of real snowflakes onto screens that we could then use to print the front covers for our cards.

In the final design, our snowflake science poem was printed on the inside of the greeting card; with a blank front cover ready for visitors to screen print the beautiful macro photographic images of snowflakes.

We’d love for you to join us in making own snowflake greeting card, or at any of our other festive events; they are taking place at various times over the Christmas holidays. The Museum is also open until 19:00 (last entry 18:15) for the holidays, so you can fit more into each visit!

Happy Holidays!

Nicolette Chin works in the Learning team as a Special Events Developer (Families and Accessible Programmes).

Written by Learning Team

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