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Clear as Crystal

Grade Level: 4 - 6

Purpose:

For students to make their own material.

Materials:

Hot water
A clean paper clip
2 cups sugar
Thread or string
A heat-resistant glass
Magnifying glass
A spoon

Procedure:

1. Half-fill the glass with very hot water. Slowly mix as much sugar as possible in the water. The sugar will dissolve. Keep adding sugar until you have a thick syrup.

2. Hang a paper clip from a piece of thread or string and suspend it in the glass. Make sure the paper clip doesn't touch the bottom.

3. Leave the cup where it won't be disturbed and cover it to keep dust out.

4. After a few days, crystals will begin forming around the paper clip and string. Use a magnifying glass to examine the crystals' shapes.

Follow-Up:

Certain liquids and gases, when they cool and lose water, form crystals. When sugar dissolves in hot water, it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces until you can no longer see it. As the solution cools and the water evaporates, the sugar becomes concentrated; it begins settling out and forming crystals.

Does everyone's crystal look the same? Each crystal's pattern depends on its combination of atoms and the conditions under which it grew.