Snowflakes and Geometry

Contributed by
Antonia Szymanski

Duration: 2 class periods
Level: Beginner/8th grade
Resources: Fusion 360 software, computers
Unit Title: Understanding Angles and lines
Common Core Standards: CCS 8GA1A,B,C, 8GA3, 8GA4


  • Learners will explain tangent, parallel, perpendicular, and acute angles in their own words.
  • Learners will demonstrate understanding of mirror and symmetry through their snowflake design.
  • Learners will demonstrate understanding acute angles through their snowflake creation.

Anticipatory Set:

  • Discuss key properties of snowflakes after viewing some snowflake images. Students will use mathematical terms to describe snowflakes.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of creating rectangles and connecting rectangles in Fusion 360.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of creating extrusions in Fusion 360.

Pre-Assessment: Brief skills quiz where students create and connect three rectangles, then extrude them. Teacher walks around and views the screen to determine if students are ready to move forward. If students struggle with this skill, they should review the written steps on creating shapes, moving shapes, and extruding shapes. See Handout 1.

Objective/Purpose: Students will create a snowflake that measures 40mm X 40mm X 15 mm high that have at least 3 acute angles. Once the snowflakes have been constructed students will use short answer to describe the definitions and importance of tangent, parallel, perpendicular, mirror, symmetry, and acute angles.

Input: Basic requirements of a snowflake. Familiarity with Fusion 360 basic commands.

Model: The teacher will model how to create the first leg and then how to use the create a circular pattern command to copy the pattern around in a circle.

Guided Practice: As a class students will create a single side of a snowflake.

Independent Practice: Working on their own, each student will modify the snowflake to make sure that it meets the size and angle requirements. The snowflake will be shared with the teacher for printing. Students will be encouraged to explore how different constraints effect the design. They will also create a word document that uses their own words to write short definitions of the vocabulary words.

Check for Understanding: Students will discuss what happened when they tried out the tangent, parallel, perpendicular, and mirror commands. Based on their experiences they will work with a partner to come up with a definition and its importance as it relates to geometry.

Extension Activity:

  • Change the snowflake into an ornament by adding a circle that can be used as a hanger.
  • Enclose the snowflake in a sphere that is shelled out so the snowflake is suspended in a circular cage.
  • Use only lines and angles to create your initials, make a snowflake pattern from your initials.