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Johannes Kepler and the Mystery of Six-Cornered Snowflakes



Johannes Kepler and the Mystery of Six-Cornered Snowflakes
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.17

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    hexagon, johannes, seventeenth-century, immodest, dealing, planetary, best, hexagonal, inquiry, mathematical, pomegranate, mathematics, bond, mass, volume, based
     content words:    Johannes Kepler, Six-Cornered Snowflake, Maria Mitchell


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Johannes Kepler and the Mystery of Six-Cornered Snowflakes
By Cindy Grigg
  

1     Johannes Kepler was a seventeenth-century scientist. He is best known for his laws dealing with the motion of planets. One winter day in 1611, Kepler gave a small book he had written to a friend as a gift. The book was called The Six-Cornered Snowflake. Kepler's book was the first scientific look at the structure of snow crystals. It is also the first record of a mathematical inquiry into natural forms or structures.
 
2     Kepler wondered why snowflakes fall as "six-cornered stars, tufted like feathers." He said there must be a cause, or some snowflakes would have five or seven corners. Kepler realized there were other things in nature with six sides. Each cell of a honeycomb, for example, is a hexagon. The seeds of a pomegranate, he noted, were also hexagonal in shape.
 
3     Kepler began to look for a cause. He wanted to solve the mystery of why snowflakes have six corners.

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