Snow Science: A Game in a Jar

February 18, 2014


After a fluffy snowfall earlier this winter, my husband and our 4-year-old went out in the backyard to play. They came back at dinnertime with a project that intrigued me: They had packed a glass jar full of clean snow and screwed the lid tight.

My husband asked:

  • How long would it take for the snow to melt?
  • How much water would be in the jar?

We discussed the possibilities for a bit and made our guesses. Then our grown-up dinner guests arrived. The questions intrigued them too.

Someone remembered a ratio that compared inches of snow to an inch of rain. But snow comes in different textures and weights. How much air was trapped in that day’s snow? More questions arose: How tightly packed was the snow in our jar? How warm was our house—and would the temperature go down overnight? Another discussion, and more guesses were made. Then the wait began.

Without giving away the answer for our jar, I can say that the guests had to leave before we knew it. And that the photo accompanying this post offers a good clue.

Try this one at home to get your kids thinking a little more about the snow.


  • NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) says 13 inches of snow is generally equal to 1 inch of rain.
  • Read more suggestions for snow-related family activities in an earlier blog post, Snow Science: Fun Ways to Explore Snowflakes with Kids.
  • Learn more about snowflakes, and about the man called Snowflake Bentley, in the blog post Junior Naturalist: Snowflakes.

Get tips on raising the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts in Great Kids, Great Outdoors and find trip ideas in AMC’s community for families, Kids Outdoors.

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Heather Stephenson

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.