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Snow Melt Experiment

In the spring, snow melts as the weather warms up. This can be useful for many crop farmers since the melted snow helps keep their soil moist! But did you know that an inch of snow is different than an inch of rain? In this experiment, find out why!


Clear jar or cup




  1. Fill a cup or jar with snow. Don't pack it in, just scoop it in gently!

  2. Place a piece of tape on the jar so that the top of the tape lines up with the top of the snow.

  3. Wait! Leave your cup of snow in a warm place until it melts. Once it’s all melted, use another piece of tape to mark where the top of the water is.

  4. Compare! Is the water level lower than the snow level? By how much? Use a ruler to measure the difference between the level of snow and the level of water.

How it works:

Snow is less dense than rain. To test this, weigh 1 cup of snow (unpacked), and 1 cup of water. The water should be heavier since it’s denser! This is because of the shape of the snow. When snow freezes, it doesn’t freeze into the shape of a perfect raindrop. Instead, it freezes into a crystal pattern. This structure allows snowflakes to hold space between themselves, whereas raindrops all squish together with no space for air in between. So, when the snow melts and loses its crystal shapes, it all squishes together as water droplets! On average, 10 inches of snow is the same as 1 inch of rain, though this can vary a lot!



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