Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Make Your Own Crystals! Great Kids' Science Experiment!



At our home, we love science experiments!  I'm not talking about making penicillin/growing mold by leaving food in the fridge for too long (although I'm embarrassed to say that may or may not have happened in this house before)!  I'm talking about learning about why things are the way they are or how to create or manipulate matter. We love hands on experiments!

Kids learn by doing, so why not make it fun?!

One of my friends teaches in public school and she has got to be one of the coolest teachers around! I'd LOVE to be a student in her class. She always has lots of fun experiments to do with kids. When we have play dates with our kids, we always have fun projects for our 3, 4, and 5 year olds to do. For example, making our own polymer (aka: Goop!), making stained-glass with wax paper and melted crayons, and baking gluten-free cookies.

Recently, we grew our own crystals!

How cool is that?

MATERIALS NEEDED:

  • string
  • wide mouth pint jar 
  •  pipe cleaners (we used sparkly, shiny ones)
  • Borax 
  • pencil, stick or BBQ skewer
  • boiling water
  • scissors


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. To make borax crystal snowflakes we need to first make the snowflake shapes with the pipe cleaners. Cut a pipe cleaner into three equal sections. You need to then twist the sections together at their centers, forming a six-sided snowflake shape. It doesn't have to be even because you can cut and trim the sides. Because our kids are so young, my friend and I did this step for them. Make sure the snowflake can fit inside the jar.
  2. Next, tie the string to the end of one of the snowflake 'arms'. Then, tie the other end of the string to the pencil, stick, skewer. Make sure the length is so that the pencil hangs the snowflake into the jar. Not touching the bottom of the jar, but enough that the snowflake is fully immersed in the solution.
  3. ADULTS, this is where you need to come in. Fill the wide mouth pint jar with boiling water. 
  4. Now, add  one tablespoon of  borax at a time to the boiling water. Stir to dissolve after each addition of borax. The quantity: 3 tablespoons of borax per cup of water. 
  5. Hang the pipe cleaner snowflake in the jar. Rest the pencil, stick, or BBQ skewer on top of the jar.  Make sure the snowflake is completely covered with liquid solution. Ensure that it hangs freely and doesn't touch the bottom or sides of the jar. If doing more than one experiment at a time, make sure none of the snowflakes are touching.
  6. Let sit undisturbed overnight.
  7. Presto! As my four year old will tell you, "It's like magic, but it's science!" You can now admire all the pretty crystals and hang your snowflake as a decoration or in a window to catch the sunlight. We're using ours as Christmas tree ornaments!

Looks like some kind of wacky science experiment, doesn't it? The water turned pink because of the purple pipe cleaners. We used some sparkly silver, blue, and purple pipe cleaners just to see what the effect would be. You can use regular pipe cleaners, but the sparkly ones really do add to effect and make the crystals look even more brilliant!

Important Notes

  1. Borax is available at most grocery stores in the laundry detergent aisle. The one that is readily available in our local grocery stores is the 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster.
  2. Parents and adults required to not only supervise, but assist with this experiment. Boiling water is used and Borax is not meant to be eaten. Please make sure that there is an adult to supervise!
  3. If you don't have Borax, you can also use sugar or salt. It may take longer to grow the crystals without the Borax, so be patient. Add sugar or salt to the boiling water until it stops dissolving. Ideally you want no crystals at the bottom of the jar.

These are so beautiful! My four year old was AMAZED to see the crystals form right before her eyes! We left the solution and the pipe cleaners overnight and within a short time we saw crystallization begin. By morning, the crystals were bigger and fuller. Truly amazing!  

The crystal snowflakes and stars make gorgeous decorations for the holidays! Try it! I'm sure your kids will love doing this fun "science experiment".




13 comments:

NPC said...

I really need to try their, they look beautiful and a perfect ornament for the tree. I think I will steal this and try it at home.

NPC said...

*these

NPC said...

I really need to try their, they look beautiful and a perfect ornament for the tree. I think I will steal this and try it at home.

Denise G said...

ohhh I like these!! They are really pretty! They would actually make great gifts for the kids to make for their nana's and papa's

Multi-Testing Mommy said...

Thanks for the reminder about this fun activity! We will be doing this for Christmas for sure!

mamawee said...

this is such a cool idea....I remember trying to do it with sugar when I was young, and it never worked. I think I will need to do this with my boys!

Tammy inRdream said...

So fun the kids did this once at school, I was wondering how! thanks for sharing!

Christine McN said...

NPC:
Let me know if you and the girls make these at home! If they like "bling", they'll love this! LOL!

Christine McN said...

Denise:
So true! What a great idea for a gift to give grandparents! So special when it's handmade :)

Christine McN said...

MTM:
Awesome! Let me know how they turn out! :)

Journeys of The Zoo said...

So creative, I never would have thought of making these. I know what we're going to make now that the weather is getting cooler!

Besos, Sarah
Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo
journeysofthezoo at hotmail dot com

Paula Schuck said...

Yes! We have had that science experiment on our list for two years now. My kids prefer blowing things up experiments instead. I have been meaning to do this one for a long long time. Maybe tomorrow. Thanks.

Brandi Yee said...

Very, very cool! The kids and I have been experimenting with different ways to make ornaments. We'll have to try this one!

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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