A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n


A crystal is a special kind of rock. Different crystals have different beautiful shapes and colors.

What you'll need

Your magnifying glass
Table salt
Epsom salt
Honey jar
Measuring cups and spoons
Paper cut into circles
1 3/4 cups of sugar
2 or 3 paper clips
A glass jar or drinking glass
Your science journal

What to do

  1. Use your magnifying glass to look for crystals. Inspect:

    The table salt and Epsom salt;

    The honey jar (particularly if it has been open for awhile); and

    The walls of the freezer (if it's not the frost-free kind).

  2. Draw pictures of what you see in your science journal.

  3. Do all of the crystals look the same?

    If not, how are they different?

  4. Try dissolving salt crystals and forming new ones:

    Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water.

    Grown-up alert!

    Heat the mixture over a low flame to evaporate the water.

    What's left?

    What shape are these crystals?

  5. Snowflakes are made of ice crystals and are beautiful, but they are hard to see clearly. You can make paper snowflakes.

    Take a circle of paper (use thin paper) and fold it in half. Then fan fold it.
    Make cuts along all the edges. Unfold them.

  6. Grow rock candy crystals from dissolved sugar.

    Grown-up alert!

    Pour a cup of boiling water into a dish and add 1 3/4 cups of sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Prepare a jar or glass as shown.

    Wash the paper clips and use clean string. When the sugar water is cool, pour it into the jar and put it where no one will move it. Hang the paperclips in the water and put the pencil on top of the jar.

    Some crystals may form in a few hours. Some may grow to be half an inch on each side. To save them, take them out of the water and keep them dry. But they may disappear--they are good to eat.

When certain liquids and gases cool and lose water, crystals are formed. Crystals are made up of molecules that fit neatly together in an orderly package. All crystals of the same material have the same shape, regardless of the size.

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