Natural Science: How Do Crystals Grow?

A crystal is a special type of solid where the particles are arranged in an orderly and repeating pattern. When solids are dissolved in water, they form a solution, like when salt and water mix. As particles dissolve in water, the particles of the solid separate and distribute evenly throughout the mixture. Sometimes two dissolved particles move closer to each other and begin to attract, causing them to stick together. Over time more and more particles attach to the growing solid and “drop out of the solution”. The solid formed is a special compound called a crystal.

In this activity students will explore how crystals are made.

Materials:

Measuring cups (1/2 cup)
Tablespoons
Alum (spice can be found at grocery store)

Instructions:

  1. Add ½ cup of hot water to 2 ½ tablespoons of alum.
  2. Crystals will form within 30 minutes.
  3. Want bigger crystals add more alum to the water.

How It Works:

When the alum and water mix, the alum begins to accumulate in clusters and as the warm water evaporates, it leaves the lumped crystals behind. The alum forms not just a solid, but a solid with a repeating pattern, making a crystal.

Discussion Questions to Ask:

  • How did were the crystals made?
  • What characteristics do the crystals have?

There are many places where crystals grow in nature, like ice crystals are often formed in the winter, in colder climates as the liquid molecules freeze. Also in caverns, there are stalagmites and stalactites that are crystals of calcium carbonate. When teaching concepts like crystals, young students may become bored as the formation of the crystal may take longer than one class period. To keep the students’ attention, incorporate crystals-related activities in other areas, i.e. math (counting or matching crystals), art, geography (where do crystals form in nature), even in physical education (students can pretend to be frozen crystals and play tag). It is best to start this activity and others that take more than one day on a Friday, that way when the students return on Monday the process is complete. For other science teaching tips related to crystals, visit: http://bit.ly/10l3FXy

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http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/ocean.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/space.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/brain.html

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Blubber: Teaching About Sea Mammals

Want to really get your elementary kids interested in learning about sea mammals such as whales and walruses?  Then teach about blubber! If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s nothing so disgusting as it sounds.  Blubber is the part of the sea mammals that keeps them warm. In fact, before you start this experiment, you should make sure that the kids understand this salient point. At the end of this, students should know that blubber is the fat layer beneath many sea animals’ skin, and that this layer is an insulator that helps sea mammals to stay warm. Continue reading “Blubber: Teaching About Sea Mammals”

Make a Nest & Bird Feeder

The early fall weeks of the new school year are a good time to teach your elementary students about the birds that live around them.  This is the time of the year when the birds that are still around, are looking for shelter and for something to eat.  That gives your kids the opportunity to learn about their feathered friends by working on projects such as a bird nest and a bird feeder.

Let’s talk about the nest first.  On a day when the weather is not too chilly, take the children outside and go on a nest hunt.  Have them look in an area with plenty of trees for a real nest.  As you look at it together, (or talk about it if you don’t happen to find one that Continue reading “Make a Nest & Bird Feeder”

Making an Edible Solar System

No need to try to generate excitement with elementary students about space, the solar system and planets.  They already have a natural curiosity about these things, thanks to an abundance of science fiction in the media.  Here are a great way to capitalize on this excitement and to teach them the truth about our solar system.

The first part of this science lesson is making a solar system using candies for planets. Continue reading “Making an Edible Solar System”

Earth May have a Shorter Day

The 8.8-magnitude Chilean earthquake released so much energy that it may have slightly shortened the length of the Earth’s day, a NASA scientist says…

…The JPL computer model suggests that the length of the Earth day may have been shortened by 1.26 millionths of a second.  The change in the length of the day came as a result of the shift in the Earth’s axis that occurred because of the quake. The Earth’s figure axis, the imaginary line about which its mass is balanced, shifted by 2.7 milliseconds of arc, or about eight centimetres. Continue reading “Earth May have a Shorter Day”

Making a Genius Brain

Did you know that playing alpha-wave music in a classroom such as Baroque, Eastern Asian, or hemi-sync combinations enhances the ability of a student to learn, study, absorb and assimilate information? It is noted by many brain scientists today say that literally anyone can have a Genius Brain if they have the proper nutrition and do particular exercises.

To Think; “Reserve your Right to Think, for to think wrongly is far better than to not think at all”. (Famous Genius Hypathia of Alexandria (350/370-415 A.D.) Hypathia, a gal ahead of her time, was a pioneer for furthering human brain potential.

The human brain is the center of the human nervous system and is a highly complex organ. Brain evolution, from the earliest shrewlike mammals through primates to hominids, is marked by a steady increase in what is known as “encephalization” – Continue reading “Making a Genius Brain”