Thursday, April 14, 2011

Growing Crystals

I came across this great science experiment at The Enchanted Tree for growing crystals out of nothing but water and Borax.  This is a very simple experiment with almost instant results! You can grow wonderful crystals in less than 24 hours. 

First, boil two cups of water for each crystal sun catcher you want to make.

Design some shapes out of pipe cleaners small enough to fit into your glass or jar without touching the sides or the bottom.

Stir in three tablespoons of Borax to each cup of water - so for our two cup solution we added six tablespoons of Borax.  Add them one tablespoon at a time stirring each one well.  Add in some food coloring at this point if you like to make it more fun!  This could be a great time for teaching little ones about primary colors making secondary colors.

Suspend your pipe cleaner shape by a string attached to a pencil across the top of your glass.  Make sure your entire shape is submersed.  You will be able to see the very beginnings of the crystals starting to form immediately on the pipe cleaners.  Amazing!!

After a few hours, you can see whole crystals starting to form.

You might even be able to impress the teenager....  maybe....

Just before bed time - this is what the crystals looked like.

And this morning - we had beautiful crystal sun catchers!!

And by mid morning - it looked like this!

Here is the scientific reason behind these fun growing crystals!

Borax is an example of crystal - "a solid with flat sides and a symmetrical shape because its molecules are arranged in a unique, repeating pattern."

Every crystal has a repeating pattern based on it's unique shape. They may be big or little, but they all have the same "shape". Salt, sugar, and Epsom salts are all examples of crystals. Salt crystals are always cube-shaped while snow crystals form a six-sided structure.

How do the Borax crystals grow?

Hot water holds more borax crystals than cold water. That's because heated water molecules move farther apart, making room for more of the borax crystals to dissolve. When no more of the solution can be dissolved, you have reached saturation. As this solution cools, the water molecules move closer together again. Now there's less room for the solution to hold onto as much of the dissolved borax. Crystals begin to form and build on one another as the water lets go of the excess and evaporates.

This also applies to snowflakes - As water cools the molecules move closer together. Since all water molecules are shaped the same (H2O) they align in a six sided crystal.

While you are waiting for your crystals to grow - you can dress up all of your stuffed animals for a stuffed animal wedding.  Just a suggestion.....


Carrie said...

This SO beats the crystals we were trying to grow! I may have to steal your great idea!

Caseybumpinalong said...

Ooo, we're going to have to try this! Thanks for sharing! Love your pics, and the animal wedding is too cute!

The Full Nelson said...

Thanks for husband is going away for four months with the army and I have been trying to think of lots of fun things to do with the kids while he's away. This will definately be added to the list!

Autismland Penny said...

What a great idea! Thanks!

Wendy said...

YAY--an easy science experiment to share with my preschool class :). THANKS! Love the pictures--can't believe how much the girls have grown :)!

Nana said...

I like this idea for a science lesson. I just got a box of borax to use as a weed killer. It has many uses. Will try the crystals. Sounds like more fun than killing weeds.

Joanne said...

I use borax all the time! The kids are off from school the coming week and I can't wait to try this with them. Thanks! Blessings, Joanne

Alice said...

i love the stuffed animal wedding shot :)

your homeschool posts are the best! such fun learning - it helps me remember things better when i have a hands-on application. we could read about crystals, but isn't it so much more fun and easier to understand when you make your own?

Phyllis said...

Just dropping by from Live, Learn and Love Together. I love your blog! It is so happy and bright and makes me feel warm and at home. I will be stopping by again.