May 7, 2012

Epsom Salt Crystals

I've had the total pleasure of teaching an elementary Chemistry class this year.

Once a week, twenty-two 5th and 6th graders would gather and we would
explore high school level topics with some elementary level fun!

A few weeks ago we studied solutions...saturated, unsaturated and supersaturated.

A fun way to demonstrate this is by making crystals.

Many of the kids had tried making crystals before, but it hadn't worked because
they missed this crucial step.....they did not make a supersaturated solution!

Here's my recipe for awesome crystals! 
(and the ones above are just beginning to grow!)

1/2 cups of water
1/4 cup of Epsom salt must heat the water to near boiling or boiling.  More crystals are able to dissolve in the hot water.  You can even add an additional 1/4 cup
of Epsom salts to dissolve if the water is hot.

You will want to stir the water with the Epsom salts until it turns from cloudy
to clear.....this indicates that the salt is being fully dissolved in the water.

We took a pipe cleaner wrapped around a wood split (You can just use a 
pencil)and hung our pipe cleaner over a Styrofoam cup.

Some of the kids made really cool shapes with their pipe cleaners...snowflakes, circles, triangles, and double circles.

Place your cup in a warm, sunny place.  This aids the rate of evaporation of the water.  You want the water to evaporate.

If you notice our cup, it is now half-full of water.  It was 3/4 of the way full when we started.  

Be prepared for NOTHING to happen for up to a week!  We kept coming back and checking
and we had an empty pipe cleaner....but have faith, as the water evaporates, 
the crystals will grow!

I've also heard that you can pour the solution over a sponge and the crystals will grow on the sponge.

I'll keep you posted....we're still hoping for some bigger crystals!

1 comment:

Mrs. Nerdy said...

Elizabeth's worked! There are some beautiful crystals on her pipe cleaner.

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