This science activity experiment allows for creativity and relates to other outcomes within the Science curriculum. The students will learn how crystals are made using borax, what causes water to boil, how water vapor and water magnification is created. It relates well to the Winter theme.
-see through cups that can hold hot water (you should use disposable ones as the crystals will also form inside the cup).
-pipe cleaners (different colors)
Creating the Art Work
-The students will create a sculpture using pipe cleaners (could be a snowflake, spirals or different shapes). They will need to be small enough so they can be submerged into the cups. Some will need to be cut.
-wrap another pipe cleaner around it so it can be hooked on to the edge of the cup and allow it to be submerged into the crystal water solution.
The Borax Crystal Solution
-Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Discuss what caused the bubbles to form (heat caused the water molecules to go into different directions and hit against each other). Point out how the heat caused the evaporation to speed up. Point out the formation of the water vapor.
-Add about 4-5 tablespoons of borax. Stir after each addition until dissolved.
-Fill as many cups as possible with the solution. Submerge a few of pipe cleaner creations into the cups as possible.
-Print the name on the cup
What did they notice when they submerged the pipe cleaner creation into the cup? It should have appeared larger. Discuss how water acts as a magnifier.
Note: If you have a large class you will not be able to do this in one sitting. You will likely have to do a few when the students are not around.
Allow the crystallization process to last about 24 hours.
1. Have the students observe the crystals that were formed on their creations and in their cups. Explain why this occurred.
The borax molecules are attracted to each other even when they are in the water, first forming small crystals and then larger ones as they attach themselves to the pipe cleaner.
Borax is a crystal and when placed in hot water the molecules move farther apart which allows more room for dissolving. When the solution no longer dissolves; it has reached its saturation point. When the solution cools the crystal’s water molecules move closer together. Crystals begin to form by building onto one another as the excess water evaporates.
Explain that a snowflake is also considered a crystal.
2. Allow the students to observe the crystals formed on all the different creations at the Science Center. Several magnifying glasses should also be added to they can take a closer look.
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