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Designer, developer: Dae Young Kim

creative, interactive datavisualization project

Can learning about scientific facts become fun, creative, and engaging? SNOW CRYSTALS explores the possibilities where learning can become fun through creative, hands-on activities, and visualized, interactive information. Here, various types of SNOW CRYSTALS and the natural system within their design is visualized and engages the audience with an experience that enables them to create their own unique snow crystals, and observe the relationship between the formation of snow crystals and environmental elements.

Tools: HTML, CSS, Javascript (THREE.js library, P5.js library)


How are SNOW CRYSTALS made?
What makes different types of crystals?

Every SNOW CRYSTALS are different from each other.

"SNOW CRYSTALS" shows the formation of different types of SNOW CRYSTALS in an interactive form where users can adjust temperature and humidity to create and observe difference between each shape.

Create your own SNOW CRYSTALS

There is no "correct answer" or "perfect example" of SNOW CRYSTALS. Users can free their creativity and draw their own snow flakes.

Project Contents

Introduction to the "SNOW CRYSTALS"
Upon arrival, audiences are introduced with a brief summary of the project and an instruction for the snowflake drawing activity.

Snow flake drawing activity 
As audiences click and drag anywhere, lines are drawn to create unique snowflakes for each audiences. The creative outcome does not end as a mere task completion activity, but creates a starting point of engagement, discussions and sharing among the audiences. Once finished, audiences can proceed to the next step.

Interactive, visualized information on SNOW CRYSTALS formation
Audiences can adjust "Temperature" and "Humidity" bar, the two environmental elements that affect the formation of snow crystals, to simulate and observe the difference between each shapes and its environmental requirements. The hands-on activity brings a clear understanding of the natural system hidden underneath the SNOW CRYSTALS formations.

Design Process Documentation

Project SNOW CRYSTALS was created with:

  1. Research on the natural phenomena of snow and preceding studies

  2. Visualization of the researched materials

  3. Iterative Explorations

Temperature and humidity

Factors that affects the crystal formation are temperature and humidity. (As this project is scientific in nature, Celcious and Metric system will be used as standards)

img src: snowcrystals.com
Unique but patterned

No two snowcrystals are same. But they show certain patterns in shapes and can be divided into 9 groups of crystal shapes.

img src: snowcrystals.com
Snow crystal structure

A snow crystal can be broken down into largely three parts:

  1. Basal Facet: a hexagonal shape which becomes a base for snow crystals to grow.
  2. Branch: six corners of a snow crystal that grow faster as they touch the humid air more.
  3. Side Branch: As the crystal grows larger, the same effect causes side branches to sprout from the two corners of each branch.

Snow crystal formation

A snow crystal’s life cycle has 5 steps:

  1. Faceting: water molecules solidifies into a hexagonal shape
  2. Branching: branches and protrusions grow on each vertex
  3. Sharpening: snow crystal becomes thinner and basal facet becomes wider
  4. Branching and colliding: side branches grow on existing branches
  5. Falling: large and heavy crystals falls to the ground

Snow crystals infographics
The visualization foucsed on showing types of crystals, natural factors that affects the shapes, basic anatomy, and formation process of snowflakes.

Iterative exploration
Iterations were focus on changing the static infographics into a more interactive model to create a hands on learning experience. In this process, the datavisualization was remade into a program using Javascript THREE.js library.

Explorations were incorporated to distance the project from being a fully scientific project and to incorporate user’s creativity as part of the learning experience.


Next steps and possibilities

  • Incorporation of Machine learning
    Incorporating machine learning into conditioned simulation of crystal formation will allow a more realistic simulation of natural system.

  • Simulating user creations with Immersive technology.
    On the starting page of the project, users can draw their own snow crystal. A platform where users can experience their creations in a Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality, will create a more engaging user experience.

Link to the project:  https://ira77kim.github.io/Snow-Crystals/
Codes are open for any educational purposes and are available in https://github.com/ira77kim/Snow-Crystals

Works Consulted

  1. Snowflake pictures taken by Wilson Bentley (Snowflake Bentley)
  2. Snow Crystals: Natural and Artificial (book) by Ukichiro Nakaya
  3. Physical Dynamics of Ice Crystal Growth (paper) by Kenneth G. Libbrecht

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© 2020 copyright by Dae Young Kim