Do you have a budding – and bored – scientist at home? The Burns Bog Conservation Society suggests having your kids make a crystal.
The holidays can be a boring and frustrating time for children. Here is an experiment that is safe, cheap and the supplies are easy to find. And you can impress kids and grandkids alike with your knowledge.
What is a crystal?
It is a group of atoms, molecules or ions that fit together in a very ordered or organized pattern. Some common every day crystals are salt and sugar.
Grow Your Own Alum Chrystal
2-1/2 tablespoons alum
1/2 cup of hot water
nylon fishing line or thread
pencil, ruler, knife or Popsicle stick
2 clean jars
coffee filter/paper towel
Pour 1/2 cup of hot water into a clean jar.
Slowly stir in the alum until it is completely dissolved. Don’t add the whole amount if you don’t need it. You can tell you’ve got enough when the alum doesn’t disappear after you have added some to the water.
Cover the jar with the coffee filter or a paper towel. This keeps the dust out and lets the jar sit undisturbed overnight.
Get a clean jar in the morning and pour the alum solution from the first jar into it. You will see small alum crystals left behind at the bottom of the first jar. They are “seed” crystals that you can use to grow your big crystal.
Tie nylon fishing line around the largest, best-shaped “seed” crystal. Tie the other end of the fishing line to a flat object (Popsicle stick, ruler, pencil). Hang the seed crystal by this flat object into the clean jar with the solution far enough so that it’s covered in liquid. Don’t let it touch the bottom or the sides of the jar.
When the string is just right — not too long or too short — hang the seed crystal in the alum solution. Cover it with the coffee filter and grow your crystal.
Check your crystal every day. If you see crystals growing on the sides or bottom of the jar, carefully remove your crystal, pour the solution into a clean jar and re-hang your crystal in the new jar. If you keep your crystal in a jar with competing crystals, your crystal won’t get as big.
Tip: you can use sewing thread instead of fishing line but the crystals will grow the full length of the string. They don’t adhere to the fishing line so your crystal gets bigger.
Idea: try different types of string or add food colouring to the alum solution to get different coloured crystals.
This is just one example of the experiments that our day campers get to do in Burns Bog Conservation Society’s Wetland Adventures Day Camps.
Check out the society’s website to learn more about the daycamps.