Friday, October 25, 2013

Making Crystals

This week, I introduced our geology unit.  We began by learning about the differences between rocks, minerals, and crystals.  We also made our own crystals. 
Here's how:

Materials Needed:
  • wide-mouthed jar (we used empty pickle jars and mason jars)
  • Borax (can be found in the laundry section at your local store)
  • pipe cleaners (any color; we used white.  I also cut them in half because our jars were short.)
  • string
  • hot water
  • popsicle sticks (you could also use pencils)
  1. Twist the pipe cleaner into a shape of your choice (heart, star, letter of the alphabet, etc.).  We simply made spirals by wrapping the pipe cleaner around our index finger and then slipping our finger out.
  2. Tie a piece of string to the top of the pipe cleaner shape.
  3. Tie the other end of the string to a popsicle stick (or pencil).  This will be used to hang over the jar.
  4. Boil water and pour the heated water into a jar.
  5. Stir in a tablespoon of borax.  Keep adding more borax and stirring until you can no longer get it all to dissolve.  (Some of the borax powder may start to settle at the bottom of the jar.)  It usually takes about three tablespoons of borax for each cup of water.
  6. Lower the pipe cleaner shape into the jar of water.  Make sure that the popsicle stick (or pencil) lays securely across the jar's top.  Be sure that the pipe cleaner is completely submerged but not touching the sides or bottom of the jar. 
  7. Leave the jar in a safe place over night where it won't be bumped.
  8. The next day, you should see crystals!
Interesting Facts:
  • If the water cools quickly, you will get small crystals.  If the water cools slowly, you will get large crystals.  (We will discuss this more when we talk about intrusive igneous rocks and extrusive igneous rock.)   
  • In the past, I've used this experiment to create Christmas tree ornaments. 

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