The art of growing crystals for a science fair project is simple, fun and rewarding. The outcome is generally a dazzling display of white crystalline structures or a beautiful array of crystals in color.
A crystal, to begin with, is an orderly arrangement of atoms, molecules or ions, one over the other forming a concentrate of recognizable structures and shapes. It begins with a liquid state, and upon evaporation of the liquid, remains behind in a crystalline state. The process of growing crystals is known as nucleation and is a very simple process for anyone to follow and fun to grow.
One of the simplest projects for crystalline formation or for a crystal garden is one made out of salt solution. Different colors may be used to give the desired effect and the final outcome is fascinating. The entire procedure will give the impression of "growing on" the medium, be it string or rock, or whatever else may be used. In this present example, we will make use of strands of twine.
Things you will require:-
Salt: Half cup
Water: One cup
Saucepan: For boiling the water
Jar: Anti-corrosive and heat resistant, and not more than 4 inches high.
Food coloring: One or more
Twine: 7 strands of 5 inches measurement
#1. Bunch the twine together and tie one end of the group into a knot. The rest of the twine strands should be free for arrangement. Place the knot in the centre of the heat resistant jar with the free ends spilling over the rim of the jar in an orderly manner.
#2. Bring the water to boil in the saucepan. Add a quarter cup of salt to the water and mix briskly until all the salt has dissolved. Keep the water bubbling while adding the remaining quarter cup of salt a little at a time. There will come a time when the solution has supersaturated and no more of the added salt will dissolve. A crystalline film will form on top of the solution as an indication that it will saturate no more and the heat has to be turned off.
#3. Pour the solution into the heat resistant jar containing the twine strands. The knotted end has to be submerged in the solution. Salt crystals will grow on the strands of twine as the liquid evaporates and the temperature cools down.
#4. Food color may be added to the solution when it is poured into the jar or it may be omitted altogether for a white crystalline finish. Adding color will result in colored crystals.
# 5. The jar has to be placed in an airy place, away from distractions, as it will take a few days for the crystals to grow into a crystal bouquet in this case. Place absorbent paper under the jar if necessary.
Another alternative is to make a crystal rock garden. Use the same procedure as mentioned above. Instead of twine, use small pebbles as the medium for crystal formation. Different jars may be used for different color solutions. the same jar may be used for subsequent feeds with different colors for a multi colored finish.
The more the jar is fed with added solution, the larger will be the garden of crystals grown. There are endless options of how you may present them or the shapes you can make based upon your imagination. Growing crystals is fun and every student should have an opportunity to grow one.