With the help of the Pats Peak snowmaking crew and HKD Snowmakers, Ski New Hampshire covered a corner of the New Hampshire State House lawn in a blanket of white last week and shared information about snowmaking efficiency and the ski industry’s impact on the state’s economy.
But legislators headed to the capital were not the only ones to learn about how snow and snowmaking plays a part in life in New Hampshire. As part of their School On The Mountain program, students from Waterville Valley Elementary school visited different stations, learning about aspects of making snow and snow science.
Tim Smith, President and General Manager of Waterville Valley, is also a parent and member of the Waterville Valley Elementary school board. Along with a weekday learn to ski program like many New Hampshire school kids, Waterville Valley’s School On The Mountain program offers kids the chance to learn about many other aspects of a skiing community. “We grow up in this snow globe, and it’s a very special upbringing. We said, 'why don’t we use all our resources to teach science and math, business and writing?’” Smith told SnoCountry.com.
The Waterville Valley elementary students get to learn about everything from the science of snowmaking to economics to the rich history of their town, the birthplace of freestyle skiing and home to Olympians.
“The kids are really into understanding what’s happening around them,” Smith told us.
Ian Jarrett, Vice President of HKD Snowmakers, talked to the kids about how snow is made. They had a hose connected to a fire hydrant for a water supply, and an air compressor to force that water into the air. He explained that although there are several different types of snow guns, the combination of air and water is essential to making snow, along with looking at the wet bulb, a combination of the humidity and the ambient temperature. Even when temperatures are near freezing, snow can be made when the air is less humid.
At another station, students used microscopes to compare the ice crystals of manmade snow to that of natural snow. They observed that there was more air space around the ice crystals in the natural snow – manmade snow being more dense.
“The kids asked some really interesting questions, especially when they get to hear it from a pro like Ian Jarrett from HKD.” Smith told us. For kids whose parents might be snow makers or groomers, or work in Waterville Valley administration, this real-life lesson is one that help them understand how many New Hampshire residents work and play, taking advantage of our special culture and climate.