It is the oldest thing on earth. A teeny (about the width of four human hairs), tiny zircon. This little zircon was part of earth’s crust and is thought to be 4.4 billion years old! (See a short clip here.) What is a zircon? It is a type of crystal. So are snow, salt, your beautiful diamond ring, and parts of your computer. Crystals are all around us and are used in countless ways. Their geometric shapes are beautiful and fascinating. Here is a simple experiment that allows you and your Littles to grow your own colorful crystals.
We began this experiment as part of a homeschool lesson about colors and the letter C. However, it can also be incorporated into lessons about geology, experimental design, evaporation, or solutes. It also works well as a “Nothing but Fun!” activity. (You know, that kind of activity where the kids think they are “just playing”, but we’re really sneaking in all kinds of interesting knowledge.)
What are Crystals?
Crystals are solids that have microscopic structures which are highly ordered. Their atoms make repetitive patterns that eventually form smooth, flat surfaces. The structure and shapes vary widely.
|Crystals are solids with highly ordered microscopic structures.|
How to Do the Experiment
I had heard of growing crystals at home but hadn’t ever done it. When planning this activity, I read about crystal growing here, here, and here. We added our own twist and decided to set up a comparison experiment. We called it “Colorful Crystals.”
|It is hard to see the details in this picture, but crystals were growing on the sides and bottoms of the cups and on the yarn.|
How Do These Crystals Form?
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