What Can You Do With This: Snow Banks

I’m not sure I have the readership to pull this off as effectively as Dan has, but I’ve been thinking about this one for awhile and suddenly found a great example of it literally in my front yard¹.

Just to clarify: Those are the snowbanks flanking both sides of the driveway. When I shovel I throw equal amounts of snow on both sides of the driveway. See Dan’s original post for the instructions and leave your ideas in the comments. View high quality images of the snow banks here and here.

UPDATE: To clarify further, when I was finished shoveling, both snow banks were basically the same size and shape. Two days later, when these pictures were taken, they weren’t.

UPDATE 2: See comments below for more explanation. The additional picture below might help guide the discussion about why the right snow bank has melted significantly more towards talking about the position of the Sun and the tilt of the Earth.


¹ It seems like I’ve been using Dan’s ideas a lot here lately. I swear I’m not cyberstalking- good ideas are good ideas. When I saw the snowbanks I couldn’t NOT play along with the meme.

4 thoughts on “What Can You Do With This: Snow Banks

  1. You’ve got a great start on radiant heat and the impact of sunlight on temperature.

    Looks like conduction as well. The sunlight hasn’t been enough to melt the snow by itself, but combined the with the heat absorbed by your driveway, the snow is being melted.

  2. Can we talk about this? I dig the splitscreen but I have no idea what effect it serves. No question comes to mind, which probably signals a lack of my imagination but, still, I think the question should leap out at me.

    Let me know the question you had in mind. I’m curious if there is a more effective way to photograph it or scaffold it into the photo or if the question itself needs strengthening.

  3. @MrTeach: Nice. Wasn’t thinking about types of energy transfer at first, but it definitely lends itself to that.

    @Dan Meyer: One of the primary reasons I post my thoughts to a public space is the potential for discussion- be it critique or compliment. Yes, I think we can talk about it. 😉

    The choice of the split screen is to maximize the percentage of image actually showing the snow banks- which are my primary interest in this image. The driveway is just a large uninteresting space, so I chose to minimize it. The question I hoped this image would provoke is, “Why has one snow bank melted significantly more than the other?” Perhaps this question isn’t as obvious unless you’re the person who shoveled the driveway and knows that initially both snow banks were equal in size.

    As far as additional scaffolding, I do have two things in mind that might help. The first would be to initially show a picture of the snow banks immediately after shoveling and then compare that image to the one in this post. That should highlight the significant melting that has occurred on the right side compared to the left. The second I added to the end of the post above. The picture of the snow banks in the Sun might spur some additional lines of questioning/reasoning.

    The line of questioning I had envisioned:
    Essentially, I was hoping that interest would be piqued by the fact that one snow bank has clearly melted more than the other. Then students would be asked to hypothesize why they believe this happened. If this line of questioning stalls out, throwing up the pictures of the snow banks in full Sun might help point out that the right snow bank receives more direct sunlight- and thus more solar radiation (a.k.a. heat). That would lead to questioning why it is that the right snow bank receives so much more sunlight. If all goes swimmingly students will start asking what direction the snow banks face. The right snow bank in fact faces toward the south, while the left snow bank faces north. This hopefully will lead to a discussion about the tilt of the Earth, and how that tilt affects seasons, weather, etc. To take it even further, the effect that a Southerly Sun has upon the terrain could be introduced as well. In the Northern Hemisphere the south face of a mountain generally has a more gentle slope than the north face of a mountain. This gets into freeze/thaw cycles (lots more freezing & thawing when there’s sunlight to thaw), weathering, and erosion. It also explains why a well known adventure clothing company that likes to think of itself as producing gear for hardcore mountaineers thought The North Face was an appropriate name.

    Perhaps that would take a little too much prodding to get out of students from that one picture.

  4. “Perhaps that would take a little too much prodding to get out of students from that one picture.”

    This might be true but it helps to see where you were going with this.

    Coupla things could help. One, the lower the angle of your shot, the more obvious the height differences will be. I can see this already between the two shots you’ve posted. The first one is a higher angle. The second shot is closer to the ground and the difference is more apparent. (Imagine taking a photo of a crowd from a blimp and asking your students to tell you which person is tallest.)

    My second note comes out of the framework for visual instruction I’ve been working on for the last month. When I shoot photos I want to shoot them so that they most closely approximate the student point-of-view. I don’t want to dress the initial photo up with effects or anything that the students wouldn’t see if they were on the scene themselves. That means I’d lose the split screen.

    The more I think about it, the more I really like the concept. I’d love to see the camera on a ground-level tripod, on the same level as the snowbanks. I’d love to see video of you shoveling the banks in fast-motion followed by a daily time lapse of the snow banks melting.

    That’d be awesome. Tough but awesome.