Last year, Algonquin’s DARE District was finally completed, giving students their own space where they can learn, create and socialize. Still, there was something more to be added that would add further meaning to DARE for students. This led to the idea to make 10,000 snowflakes customized to whatever date any student finds meaningful using a 3D printer.

“Every snowflake that falls is technically different,” explained Stephen Gagné, a student in applied research innovation and entrepreneurship. “Can we make one basic model that turns into something else? …We found one that worked.”

Not only did it work, it exceeded all expectations. Upon testing the limits of their new snowflake model, it was discovered that it can make over seven billion snowflakes, enough for every single person on the planet. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time or resources to make so many snowflakes, but there’s still enough to make something beautiful for students.

“We take somebody’s name, we take a date, plug them in and we can make something that has meaning to the people,” said Gagné. “This idea of engaging 10,000 people within the DARE District and then having something physical to say this represents 10, 000 different people.”

The snowflakes will be made purely of polylactic acid, a corn-based plastic that is 100 per cent biodegradable. This means that within a few years, the snowflakes will break down. This might seem to defeat the purpose of creating the snowflakes in the first place, but Gagné disagrees.

“At Winterlude, people spend days making ice sculptures, then a week and a half later they’ve melted,” he said. “We can make something that’s going to be beautiful that will be gone a short time later, makes it better, not worse.”

Hopefully in a few years if a proposed deal with the City of Ottawa is made, more of Ottawa will be able to see one million of these beautiful creations hanging in City Hall.