The Growing Crystals Science Project – Fun & Learning
The Mystical World Of Crystals
Crystals hold an enchanted existence in the minds of children.
This growing crystals science project is not only a great visual experiment, it involves a very simple process that even younger children will find a lot of fun.
Parents looking to introduce their kids to science could do a lot worse than choosing this as their first foray into experiments.
One of the most popular ways to demonstrate crystal growth is by selecting either sugar or salt. Salt or sugar for a crystal project is a particularly good idea, especially with younger ones. Not only will they be able to observe the growth of crystal as they are formed, they can be used as either table salt or rock candy afterwards.
What Equipment Do We Need To Grow Crystals?
As with all our simple science experiments, it only requires a few items, readily available around your home.
As the sugar or salt solutions, need to be brought to the boil, it is important that parents supervise and assist their children with this project.
For this experiment, we will concentrate on the more popular Rock Candy version of our project and we will need the following items.
- Medium-sized jar
- Medium-sized saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Long enough length of cotton string to suspend inside the jar
- Galvanized screw to keep the string held down inside the solution
- Pencil, longer than the opening of the jar lid
- 1 cupful of water
- 2 cupfuls of sugar
- Candy thermometer
- Wooden spoon
- Wax paper
- Food coloring (if you want to make a variety of colored rocks)
Preparing For This Experiment
To begin our experiment an adult should first pour the water into the saucepan and bring the water up to boiling point.
Once the water starts to boil, the sugar can be added gradually into the water, stirring continually. You need to stir the sugar and water together carefully until all the sugar has been absorbed by the water, creating a clear solution.
Onc the solution is clear, it means that all the sugar has mixed thoroughly with the water.
Now, it’s time for an adult to pour the solution into the jar. If you want to produce interesting and vibrant colored crystals, this is when you should add a few drops of your favorite food coloring.
Next, take the pencil and tie the string onto it, making sure that the end of the string is suspended an inch from the bottom of the jar. The pencil can be rested over the top of the jar lid opening and rotated to wind the surrounding string.
This is useful when trying to achieve the inch gap at the bottom of the jar.
Dip the string in for just a few minutes, before removing it from the jar and placing it on the wax paper. You now have to wait until the string has dried out completely and this could take some time. Once the string is completely dry, you then need to dip it into the mixture again.
A Bit Of The Science Explained – Why Dip The String?
Crystals will not be able to form on a string that has just been dipped into water and left. The reason for this is to give the chance for small crystal seeds to grow. Once the string is completely dry the small crystal seeds will provide a platform for larger crystals to grow.
Once completely dry put the string back into the solution, this is when new crystals will start to grow. As you put the string back inside the jar with the solution, you need to be very careful not to break any of the small crystals.
Watching The Crystals Develop With Kids
It is important that you do not disturb the string when you place it back inside the solution in the jar. Any movement could prevent the crystals from forming and cause them to break off. The best thing to do to avoid this happening is to put the jar somewhere neither you nor your children will be tempted to touch it.
Crystals can take anything from 7 to 10 days to develop, so think about the location carefully and urge your children to be patient.
Understanding The Why Behind The Experiment
When you heat sugar or salt in water until no more salt or sugar will dissolve, this is known as supersaturation. As a result, the water evaporates and crystals precipitate. This, in turn, causes the crystals to form on the seed crystals and the string.
Evaporation is, therefore, the catalyst, or process that causes the formation of crystals. As the water evaporates, crystals form, or as noted above, precipitate. The process continues until there is a balance between the water and sugar and salt from the original solution.
Try Different Versions Of This Experiment
As previously mentioned, with this grow crystals science project for kids, you can be a little versatile. Instead of sugar, for instance, you could use salt. Simply switch 2 cupfuls of sugar for 2 cupfuls of salt. You could also try adding a touch of flavor to the sugar crystals. Vanilla, strawberry lime and even orange essential oils all work well when added once the sugar has dissolved.
By adding flavor, you have not just helped to teach your children a valuable science lesson, but also created a tasty treat for them at the same time.
As this experiment involves the use boiling hot syrup; it should never be carried out without adult supervision and assistance. The last thing you want to happen while encouraging your children to enjoy science is for them to burn themselves. If you are experimenting with crystal growth with particularly young children, therefore, it is better that they are not in proximity when you are pouring the hot liquid into the jar.
Another potential safety concern you should be aware of is the jar itself. When pouring the hot solution into the jar, you need to make sure that the jar you choose to use is capable and recommended to hold boiling liquid.
If the jar you intend to use has not been rated for use with boiling water, let the water cool down for a few minutes, before pouring it into the jar. Using a thermometer is very helpful here. You want the water to be no higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit before pouring it into the jar.
Obviously, the goal of this grow crystals science project for kids is to show them the importance of science, but that it doesn’t have to be something boring or too hard to understand.
Science can be fun as well as educational!