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Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley


“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”

If you’ve ever seen photographs of snowflakes, chances are, they were taken by one man – Wilson Bentley. Bentley was obsessed with snow’s beauty and devoted his whole life to its study.


Fun Facts

  • Wilson Bentley was born in Jericho, Vermont, in 1865. His father was a farmer and his mother was a school teacher. Bentley grew up working the family farm and exploring the woods nearby. He did not attend school until he was 14, but was taught at home by his mother.
  • Bentley was interested in many aspects of science. He had an old magnifying glass and a telescope. He loved to study the stars, plants, and animals. But, he was especially fascinated with snowflakes. Vermont gets more than 120 inches of snow each year, making it the perfect place to pursue his passion.
  • Bentley began examining snowflakes under the microscope. He noticed that no matter how many snowflakes he observed, none were ever alike. He longed to share his findings with others.
  • His family, especially his father and his brother, ridiculed his work. They wanted him to help them on the farm.
  • But Bentley continued to explore snowflakes. He earned enough money to buy a camera and after much trial and error, attached a microscope to it. Finally, he was able to successfully photograph a snowflake.
  • He went on to photograph more than 5,000 snowflakes. His work was purchased by universities and published in Scientific America and National Geographic
  • Finally, in 1931, a publisher agreed to make a book featuring Bentley’s photographs. He was overjoyed to see his work in a book. Unfortunately, just a few weeks later, after walking home in a storm, Bentley caught pneumonia and died.


Questions and Answers

Question: Where can I learn more about Snowflake Bentley?

Answer: Start by reading the book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian. This Caldecott Award winner has glorious woodcut illustrations.


Learn More

Watch a short video about Snowflake Bentley’s life.



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Declan, Tobin. " Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley Facts for Kids ." Easy Science for Kids, Aug 2020. Web. 13 Aug 2020. < >.

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Tobin, Declan. (2020). Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley Facts for Kids. Easy Science for Kids. Retrieved from

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