What Kids Learn From This STEAM Activity
Through the STEAM activity of Growing Crystals With Borax, kids learn about the fascinating process of crystal formation while exploring concepts in science and art. They use their creativity to make ornament shapes and gain hands-on experience with chemistry as they understand how substances like borax can interact with water to create beautiful, sparkling crystals. This activity encourages a curious and multidisciplinary approach to learning, fostering a love for science and artistic expression in young minds.
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What We Need For This STEAM Activity
- A glass or plastic container (such as a glass jar or a clear plastic container)
- Hot water (adult supervision required)
- Pipe cleaners
- Wooden stick
- Food coloring (optional)
How to Do the STEAM Activity Growing Crystals With Borax
- Create ornament shapes using pipe cleaners.
- Attach the pipe cleaner shapes to a string, then hang them on a stick, ensuring it’s long enough to hang freely in the container without touching the bottom.
- Dissolve as much Borax as possible in hot water. This will create a supersaturated Borax solution. Use hot water and stir until no more Borax dissolves.
*For every cup (240 ml) of boiling water, add about 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of Borax, If you want a more saturated solution to grow larger crystals, you can add more Borax. Just be sure to stir the solution until as much Borax as possible has dissolved.
- (Optional) You can add food coloring to the solution to create colored crystals if desired.
- Dip the pipe cleaner shapes with a stick into the Borax solution and hang it in the container.
- Leave the container undisturbed in a quiet place where it won’t be disturbed. Let it sit for several hours to a few days.
- Crystals will slowly form on the pipe cleaners over the course of several hours to a few days.
- Take out the stick with pipe cleaner shapes after several hours to a few days.
Variations & Challenges
- Predictions: Before starting the experiment, have children make predictions about how they think the crystals will grow. This encourages critical thinking and hypothesis testing.
- Crystal Shapes: Instead of using pipe cleaners, try using different types of substrates like rocks, string, or even eggshells to grow crystals, allowing kids to explore how the material affects crystal formation.
- Colors: Experiment with adding food coloring to the borax solution to create colorful crystals. This introduces concepts of color mixing and chemical reactions.
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