As three award-winning authors with more than 50 books published about the world of nature and history's makers and shakers, we hope to share insights and stories about writing nonfiction for young people. Go with us beyond arts and crafts to explore—in depth—history's past worlds and the wonder of the natural world. Use our hands-on activities to inspire someone today!
Winter is coming, folks! Depending on
where you live, it may already feel wintery, but its official start is December 21st at 10:28 am CST. Living on a tilted planet means those of us in the
Northern hemisphere are deprived of the Sun's warmth for three months. Earth's top half leans away from the Sun, making
its path across our sky short and shallow. Brrrr!
Winter storms bring some of the worst
weather around—snow, sleet, freezing rain, fierce winds, and plunging
temperatures. Confounding the misery of winter storms
is the fact that they are difficult to forecast. The heaviest snowfalls often
occur when the air temperature is hovering around freezing. If air the snow falls through changes temperature a few degrees one way
or the other, it could end up as rain, sleet, or freezing rain (see diagram
below). A mixture of different kinds of precipitation is in fact very likely
because the storms that bring snow are often caused
by warm fronts sliding over cold air near the ground.
------------------------- Sleet vs. Snow -------------------------------------
Snow and sleet are both frozen precipitation, but they fall
very differently from the sky because of their differences in weight and shape.
Snowflakes are large crystals of ice that float down slowly because their large
flat shape makes for air resistance, like a
parachute. Sleet is bits of heavy solid ice that speed towards the ground like
tiny rocks. In this activity, you can discover how weight and shape affects the speed of falling.