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Science Project: Make Your Own Crystals

Did you know crystals aren't just for decoration? Crystals are everywhere around us from salt to snow. If you need some science fair project inspiration or just want to make fun keepsake crystals, then try out one of these crystal growing projects. Goodness, why not try them all? It's a simple and fascinating way to learn about crystals and how common such an extraordinary thing is.

Rock CandyRock Candy

When you first think of crystals you may think of a fortune teller bending her eyes into reading a glassy future, or maybe you think of overhead chandeliers in glimmering hotels or your friend's favorite jeans with the snazzy back pockets. Do you ever think of salt? Because salt (also known as sodium chloride or halite crystals) is a crystal, as is sugar and snow.

Sugar CrystalsSugar Crystals

Now, prepare yourself for some science. Crystals are so common because the word crystal refers to any matter that is arranged in an ordered form. The units that are arranged can be molecules, atoms or ions which are all much too small to see with the naked eye, but whose arrangement gives crystals their characteristic structure. There are seven categories of crystal structures which are called lattices or space lattices.

Salt CrystalsSalt Crystals

Because of their certain structural characteristic, you can actually grow crystals! Well, not grow like you or a flower grows, but better to say build crystals, like you would build something with Legos. When the molecules of the to-be crystals (called solute) are bumping around each other in a liquid (called solvent) they like to stick together. There are other forces in the solution that cause them to pull back apart but once in a while you get two molecules that hang on just long enough to attract another molecule and then another and another until a crystal structure starts to form. The more solute in the solvent the faster your crystal will come together. This process of building crystals is called nucleation.

There are so many crystals to explore, play with and create. Here are just two types of crystals to whet your appetite, but know there are many many more out there waiting for you to discover them!

Crystal Needles

Crystal Needles are a great introduction to crystal growing. You can have some delicate, really cool crystals going within three hours time!

Ingredients:

  • a cup or small bowl
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
  • 1/2 cup hot tap water
  • (optional) a drop of food coloring

Directions:

  1. Add the ingredients together in your bowl or cup.
  2. Stir the solution until all the salt is dissolved. There may be some crystals still at the bottom, but that's ok.
  3. Place the cup or bowl in the refrigerator and let sit for 3 hours.
  4. You can carefully scoop the crystals out of your bowl or cup to get a better look at them.   

The Needle Crystals are Quick and DelicateThe Needle Crystals are Quick and Delicate

Sugar Crystals

You may know Sugar Crystals by their other name, rock candy, or perhaps by their most common adjective, delicious! These take a little longer than the Needle Crystals to build, but they are easy enough to do and their taste is well worth the wait!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups table sugar
  • clean glass jar
  • pencil or butter knife
  • string or yarn (do not use nylon string)
  • pan for boiling water and making solution
  • spoon for stirring
  • (optional) food coloring

Directions:

  1. Tie the string to your pencil or butter knife. The string should be able to hang into your jar without touching the bottom or sides.
  2. In the pan start boiling the water. You may want to ask an adult for help or let them know you're using the stove, just in case.
  3. Stir in the sugar one spoonful at a time. You want to make sure there is lots of the solute (in this case sugar) in the solution, but not so much that it doesn't all dissolve into the solution. If you have some undissolved sugar your Rock Crystals will start building onto those molecules rather than your string.
  4. Add a few drops of food coloring if you want some color to your candy.
  5. Carefully pour the solution from the pan into your clean glass jar. Make sure it's clean, otherwise crystals will build onto those molecules on the jar and not on your string.
  6. Balance the pencil or butter knife (with the string tied to it) on the lip of the jar and let the string dangle into the solution. Again, don't let the string hit the sides or bottom of the jar.
  7. Find a safe spot for your jar so it won't get knocked around or exposed to too much dust and debris.
  8. Check on your Rock Crystals the next day and notice how they're started to take form on the string.
  9. Whenever your Rock Crystals are the right size for your taste or when they stop growing go ahead and take them out of the jar and let them dry.
  10. Enjoy their sugary goodness!

The Sugar Crystals Take Form!The Sugar Crystals Take Form!

Science Project:

If you're hoping to incorporate crystals into your next science fair project think about building a few different types of crystals and comparing their rate of growth, size, color, taste (when appropriate) and how long they last. You can discuss, like we did above, how crystals form and why. You could even try testing different materials to see if they will form crystal structures! Sugar forms crystals, does brown sugar form Crystals? How do they compare?

Get creative and impress your science teacher with your crystal knowledge!

Have Your Say!

What do think about when you think of crystals? Share it with us in our comments section below.

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General In The Forums

cubicfairy
Kawaii Chan p.o.v Kawaii Chan knocked on the door in the tune of an anime series theme song she watched. the door opened and standing infront of her was Zane, wearing a black sweater and some grey tack suit pants, on the other hand, kawaii Chan was wearing a long pink shirt that only just went past her waist and a pair of cute jeans that she bought yesterday. There had been a long silence " hi Zane kun!" Zane smiled and let her inside, she walked in, stumbling over the rug in her high heels, Zane ran over "you alright kawaii Chan?" Kawaii Chan nodded, and Zane helped her up, yet another long silence as they just looked at each other, holding hands, smiling, then garroth ruined it " isn't that adorable!" Garroth said " garroth! Keep it down, laurance doesn't know about this!" " But he's on a shopping trip, said he'd be out for 2 hours" kawaii Chan gestured for garroth to leave, and he begrudgingly did, walking off sighing Zane p.o.v Zane was glad garroth left, it was just kawaii Chan and him, alone. He turned on Netflix and put on an anime kawaii Chan loved, she flinched " owie! Something bit me!" Zane got off the couch and inspected the floor, alittle trail of ants were scurrying in a line " that's why it smelt like orange juice! Great!" Kawaii Chan frowned " it's okay Zane kun, kawaii Chan will get over it, it was only an ant" Zane sighed " yeh okay, you're right" kawaii Chan pecked him on the cheek and they smiled, then kawaii Chan tackling him onto the floor as she tickled him until he was laughing like a child " kawaii Chan! You know I'm ticklish! Stop!" Kawaii Chan smirked " if you want kawaii Chan to stop then why are you laughing?"  Zane p.o.v After she stopped tickling, they shared a long kiss, when laurance came through the door with party stuff and a few friends to help set up, there was laurance, of course, ugh, gene, Dante, aphmau and Aaron, all of them paused in confusion, except aphmau who tried rush everyone out, but gene didn't and walked straight in, while aphmau got the rest out she went in, trying to drag gene out, Zane had stopped the kiss a little while ago, blushing light pink as gene watched kawaii Chan intently, seeing what she would do, Zane stood up and hissed at gene " get out of my house!" Gene smirked walking toward kawaii Chan grabbed by her arm and pulling her to her feet "let go of kawaii Chan!" Kawaii Chan yelled, as gene smirked again and pulled her into a kiss, kawaii Chan wasn't actually trying to move at all, she just let gene kiss her, Zane clenched his fist and walked up to gene, removing kawaii Chan from him and punching him in the chin, he sighed " you always were weak! Tsk tsk Zane, tsk tsk" gene swung a punch at Zane's forehead and dodged a bit too slow, getting hit, aphmau rushed kawaii Chan outside and closed the door behind them both, while inside they continued to brawl, gene kicked Zane in the leg, making him fall, gene continued to beat him up, until garroth came in and shouted in a dark, scary tone " get off my baby brother or I'll rip you to shreds" gene stood up and laughed as Zane lay on the ground, crying in pain once again " what you gonna do bout it?" Garoth walked up to gene and kicked him in his hip, them smashed his fist into his head, gene scream and ran out the back door, while garroth helped Zane up The end ( sorry for weird ending, kawaii Chan and Zane ARE still dating tho ^____^)
reply about 2 hours
XxRuby_PhoenixxX
Global warming will raise the ocean and bodies of waters. The cities will be flooded, and then frozen over. Someone goes outside, they freeze to death. The remaining survivors will die of starvation or freeze to death.
reply about 5 hours
drowning
drowning posted in Debating:
In my opinion, I see four most likely possibilities.  >>  Nuclear War/World Wars. >> The universe practically imploding and the sun burning us into oblivion or even another planet/meteorite slamming into us, destroying us entirely. >> Self-destructive tendencies of our own species, either accidentally or purposefully. >> Trump. Which could be the matchstick to the flame of at least two other things on this list.
reply about 7 hours
KayKayZ
KayKayZ posted in Debating:
I think it's kinda sad that there even actually exist debates where people argue whether someone else's identity is 'legitimate' or not. You know who knows that? The person who identifies as bisexual (or whatever else). Not me, not you, not their parents, not your parents, and no, not any religion. Them. Only them. No one else. That's it. But it is nice to see people expressing support. I'll join in and say, for all the bisexuals out there, be who you are. Let not any one person's judgment distract you from what your true feelings are. “If someone isn't what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” ―  Paulo Coelho ,  The Alchemist
reply about 7 hours
ghostoflegacy
ghostoflegacy posted in Debating:
You cannot describe color to a blind person. But they also see things that you can't that they cannot describe to you. I have a friend, Joseph, who's been blind since birth. He says it looks sort of like nothing and everything at once, and that little dots malt into one big dot. He also doesn't quite grasp the concept of "dark" and "light" but he can sense when a light is on vs off. I have a friend who's been blind since she was eight (grenade accident) who says it's like a mix of every color, but it's not quite black or white. And there's no one color she can name of it. But when there's a noise, the "blanket" shifts around where the noise came from, like something's different but you can't tell what.
reply about 7 hours