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Snow Shelter by Morgan, Thianna and Rio

We dig it, we jump in it, ski on it and snowboard over it. But snow isn't always fun. If you get stranded in mountains during a blizzard, it can be very dangerous. That's why we want to know if there's any way snow can keep us warm.

What did we do?
To find out, we built a quinzhee, a cave you dig in a big pile of snow. We decided to camp out and see if it would keep us warm all night. It was some cold camping! We used a thermometer to take readings inside and outside the quinzhee every hour throughout the night. We compared the indoor and outdoor temperatures to see what the difference was. Then we made a chart of the temperatures.
snow shelter chart

What did we find out?
The air temperature inside the quinzhee stayed between 31 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit all night long, but the outside the temperature dropped to 20 degrees. The inside temperature was warm enough for us to sleep okay but it was pretty wet! The quinzhee walls kept the heat from our bodies trapped inside the snow shelter. We were surprised that snow could be such a good insulator.

What can you do?
  • If you live in a snowy place, you've probably seen people sprinkle salt on streets or sidewalks. This melts away ice and snow. Why does it work? Put snow or ice into two Styrofoam cups. Sprinkle salt over only one of them. Stir both cups and take the temperatures of each. Which cup is colder? Are the results what you expected?
  • Did you ever want to bite into a snowball? Before you feast on the flakes, try this investigation. Grab some snow from three different places in your yard, street or playground. Put it into separate containers and label each one with the location in which you found it. Place one spoonful of each sample on a labeled paper towel. Let the water evaporate. What's left behind? Does snow make a good snack? YOU be the judge!
  • Use this physical science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
more resources
More on Conduction, Convection, and Radiation

Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
whiz quiz
On average, what U.S. city has the most annual snowfall?

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