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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Salt Crystal Observation...watch them grow!

  Pipe cleaner salt crystal designs.

Materials:

pipe cleaners
clear cup or jam jar
1/2 cup hot water (Be careful! Adult helps with this part)
1/3 cup salt
spoon
pencil string
food coloring (optional)

  • Bend a pipe cleaner into any shape you like.
  • Carefully pour the very hot water into the clear cup (1/2 cup per cup). Add a few drops of food coloring if desired.
  • Mix in 1/3 cup salt just one spoonful at a time--stir and dissolve after each spoonful.  Keep adding salt until no more will dissolve.
  • Wrap one end of the pipe cleaner around the middle of a pencil.
  • Set the pencil across the top of the cup.  Make sure that the pipe cleaner hangs down into the salty, hot water.

  • Place your crystal growing cup into a place where it will not be disturbed and where you'll be able to check on it often.
  • You'll have to be patient!  It will take a few hours for the signs of the growing crystals to show up on the pipe cleaner.
  • Observe the crystals and see how they change each day.  When most of the solution is evaporated from the cup, remove the pipe cleaner and slide it off the pencil.  You can tie it to a piece of yarn and use it as a beautiful, sparkly ornament.

Did you know that before the salt in your salt shaker is ground into tiny little specks it actually looks like this?  
This is a large crystal 
chunk of salt

How did the experiment work?

When you dissolve the salt into the hot water, the tiny salt crystal molecules are spread apart and are mixed up with the water.  As the water evaporates, the salt molecules line up in a regular pattern to become a crystal again, clinging to the pipe cleaner.

Basic Science Vocabulary:

Molecule: the smallest part of a substance that has all the properties of the substance.
Dissolve: one substance, (such as salt molecules breaking apart) and going into another substance, (such as the water) and making a solution.
Evaporate:  the process of a liquid changing into a gas. 
Crystal:  a substance in which the molecules are packed into a orderly, three-dimensional pattern. Most crystals are solids---salt and sugar are both good examples of crystals.

adapted from Science Arts by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter

2 comments:

  1. What happens the first day when creating the crystal?

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