Science Fair Crystals
Crystal Science Fair Projects
There are several ways you can use crystals for science fair projects. Young scientists may want to make models of types of crystals or grow a crystal from a kit. More advanced researchers can experiment with the effects of changing the growing conditions of crystals. Another option is to work out a procedure for growing a perfect crystal.
Examples of Crystal Science Projects
Here's a look at some options for science fair crystals, listed from beginner to more advanced. Science projects at the middle school level onwards should apply the scientific method.
Find examples of common crystals. These could include quartz, salt, sugar, and snowflakes. What other common materials are made from crystals? Did you know that the cut 'crystal' used for some glasses isn't really made from crystal at all?
Crystals can be categorized according to their properties. You could make models of the crystal lattices and find examples of each crystal type. Models can be constructed from toothpicks and clay or from paper. Be creative!
Growing Crystals from Kits
If you are new to crystals, you might want to see if you can grow a crystal from a kit. Once you get the hang of it, play with the factors that could influence crystal growth. What happens if you use water that is a different temperature? What happens to crystals you try to grow in the refrigerator compared with crystals you grow on the counter?
Growing Crystals Yourself
Growing crystals yourself can be as straightforward as growing crystals from a kit or it can involve answering many questions and solving many problems.
Prevent Crystal Growth
Sometimes crystals are undesirable. Not many people like to be stabbed by ice while eating ice cream. Can you think of ways to prevent crystals from forming in frozen foods? Where else are crystals a problem?
Crystal Recipes to Try
Here are some other recipes for growing crystals that you can use for a science fair project. These recipes use safe ingredients.
- Epsom Salt Crystals
Epsom salts can be added while washing laundry to help preserve dark colors. You can soak aching muscles in a solution of Epsom salts and water, too. The salts can be used to grow quick, easy crystals.
- Alum Crystals
Alum is used to help keep pickles crisp. You can use this common cooking chemical to grow large crystals. Alum crystals are among the easiest crystals to grow, plus they can become very large.
- Table Salt Crystals
Crystals of table salt (sodium chloride) are easy-to-grow. You can grow them using iodized salt and tap water, though if you want perfect crystals you should use uniodized salt and distilled water.
- Sugar Crystals or Rock Candy
Sugar (sucrose) can be used to grow crystals that are good enough to eat! These crystals pick up food coloring so you can dye them whatever color you like. Sugar crystals are easy to grow if you live in a dry climate, but can be tricky if it's always
Remember, you don't have to add a chemical to water to make crystals from it! All you need is a freezer and some water. You could experiment with freezer conditions and water to make your own 'snow' or ice crystals. Do the crystals change if you add
Crystals at Amazon
Examples of Giant Alum Crystals
Alum crystals are great for science projects because the ingredients are non-toxic, the crystals are easy to grow, and you can grow huge perfect crystals. Experiment with the effect of temperature on crystal growth or control the cooling rate of your solution and see what happens.
Points to Remember
Growing crystals or even finding them can be as much an art as a science. Here are some points to keep in mind when doing a science project that involves crystals.
- Crystals take time to grow!
Plan ahead if you are growing a crystal that takes days or weeks to reach the size you want. If you are pressed for time, use a recipe for quick crystals.
- Allow Time for Mistakes
If you are growing crystals, keep in mind you might need to develop some crystal-growing skill before they turn out the way you want. Allow enough time in your project to repeat steps in case of mistakes or accidents. Science can be messy.
- Consider the safety of the ingredients.
You can grow crystals using ingredients safe enough to eat, like sugar, salt, or alum. If you choose a project that uses a non-edible chemical, be sure the project is permitted. Some science fairs and schools have strict policies about the types of materials you can use. This especially applies if you want to show off your finished crystals.
Growing a Crystal Tree
You can get crystal trees as kits or you can make your own. The tree is made by cutting two tree shapes from cardboard. Cut a slit in the bottom of one piece and the top of the other piece. Hold the two tree pieces upright and 90° from each other. Slide one tree onto the other to make the shape. You can decorate the tree with food coloring 'ornaments' if you like. Set the tree in a dish containing a solution made from equal parts boiling water, salt, vinegar, and laundry bluing. If you can't get the bluing, you can grow crystals using just water, salt, and vinegar. You should start to see crystals forming within a day. It may take a couple of days to get full growth.
A demonstration, model, or kit is fine for beginning projects, but you need to answer a question or test a hypothesis for a really 'scientific' project.
Science Fair Project Help
- Types of Science Fair Projects
Do you know how models, demonstrations, and experiments differ from each other? Choose the best type of project for your age and education level.
- Why Do a Science Fair Project?
If it's for a grade, there probably isn't much point in asking why. If it's your choice, here are some good reasons to do a science fair project, even if it isn't required.
- How to Select a Topic
The hardest part is deciding what to do for your project. Here are some tips for getting started.
- How to Make a Poster
Science fair posters share certain things in common with each other. Here's a look at how to organize a good poster to describe your science fair project.