Let’s celebrate De-STEM-ber and make a holiday ornament with science!
*Adult supervision required*
- Pipe Cleaners
- Stir Stick or Spoon
- Small Glass Jar or Cup
- Hot Water
1. Bend your pipe cleaner(s) into a shape of your choice. Test the size of it by placing it in your empty jar.
2. Using 1 or 2 pieces of string, attach your creation to the stir stick. Make sure the stir stick is laying flat across the top of your jar. Your pipe cleaner creation should not touch the bottom or sides of your jar. Remove your creation from the jar.
3. With an adult’s help, boil or heat water in a heat-safe container. Carefully pour the hot water into the glass jar, leaving 1 inch of space from the top. Optional: add a few drops of food coloring to make colored crystals!
4. Before the water cools down, add 2 tablespoons of borax into your jar. Dissolve the borax by mixing it with the hot water. Have an adult help hold the hot jar or cup while you stir.
5. Suspend your creation in the jar with the hot water and borax. Remember, the stir stick should be laying across the top of the jar while your creation hangs in the jar.
6. Patience is key! Let your jar sit overnight to get the crystals going. Check back on it whenever you like, to see the progress.
7. The next morning, once your crystals have grown, take your creation out and lay it on a paper towel to dry. Once it is dry, you can display it however you want!
What’s happening? Crystals are a type of material that is formed by patterns of repeating molecules that appear to have flat surfaces and facets. Crystals form when a liquid cools very slowly and/or when water evaporates from a chemical mixture leaving behind a solute whose molecules reform into new geometric shapes. Solute is a substance that dissolves in another substance. Saturation is when a mineral like borax (the solute in this project) is dissolved in water. The water can only hold a
certain amount of the solute. A liquid is saturated when the maximum amount of solute is dissolved in it. Hot liquids can hold more solute than cold liquids, which is why we needed boiling water!