Category Archives: Science Experiments

Supersaturated – Borax Crystals & Rock Candy

Supersaturated – Borax Crystals & Rock Candy

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srpboraxsetup2Crystals are made when a substance has atoms or molecules that form in a very organized, repeating, 3D pattern. Usually when we think of crystals we think of some well-known gemstones like diamonds or rubies, but there are some very common crystals too. Sugar, ice, snowflakes, salt…all of these are crystals. You can make your own crystals grow.

srpboraxsnowflakeunder

You will need:

  • Glass Jar
  • Pencil or Pen
  • String
  • Pipe Cleaner
  • Borax
  • Pitcher
  • Measuring Cup
  • Tablespoon
  • Hot Tap Water
  • Piece of Yarn or Cotton String, about 6 inches long

You can make crystals using Borax – a detergent booster located in the soap section of the grocery store. We made a snowflake shape out of pipecleaners to see if we could make a snowflake crystal. Fill a pitcher with 3 cups hot tap water. (Not so hot that you can’t touch it!) Add 3 tablespoons of Borax for each cup of water (9 tablespoons!). Stir the mixture.

If all of the Borax dissolves, add a little more Borax and stir. Add Borax until the water can’t dissolve it anymore –  the mixture is saturated. That means the water is holding as much of the Borax as it can. In fact, this solution is supersaturated, that means the water is holding even more Borax than it normally would because the water has been heated. Now pour this supersaturated solution in the glass jar.

Make a shape out of the pipe cleaners and tie one end of the string to it. Tie the other end of the string to the middle of the pen. Hang the pipe cleaner shape down in the jar with the pen across the top of the jar to keep it from touching the bottom of the jar. Watch what happens in the jar over the next few weeks.

srpboraxgrowth

Here is what our crystals looked like after growing on the pipe cleaner snowflake for about 2 weeks. The secret to good crystals is having a supersaturated solution.

Science Project Idea: Grow three different borax crystal snowflakes. You need three glass jars that are exactly alike. Fill one with cold tap water and one with hot tap water. Get an adult to help you fill the last jar with boiling water. Now add Borax to each jar until the Borax will not dissolve anymore. The warmer the water, the more Borax will dissolve in the water. That’s because heating the water helps it become supersaturated. Now add the pipecleaner snowflakes and compare the crystals that grow over the next couple of weeks. Which jar has the most crystals? Which jar has the largest crystals?

This video shows you how to make rock candy – a cool crystal you an eat. To make rock candy you need to make a supersaturated solution. That means you have to heat up the water on the stove, so get a grown-up to help you with this one.

Here are some websites that give you ideas for making crystals. You can grow crystals using salt, sugar, baking soda and many other substances.

Here is a video that shows you some super fast crystal growing:

Here are some books that gave good directions for growing different kinds of crystals:

  • Science Rocks! Crystal Creation Pipecleaner crystal snowflakes (pages 16-17)
  • Prize Winning Science Fair Projects for Curious Kids – Crystal Creation (pages 81-82)
  • Mixtures and Solutions – Solubility Try This! Growing Crystals (page 22-23)
Science Rocks Science Projects for Curious Kids Mixtures and Solutions Crystal and Gem
What Are Crystals? Let's Rock Crystals Groovy Gems

Words to Know:
Crystal – A solid whose atoms or molecules are arranged in a 3-dimensional repeating pattern. Examples: A snowflake, a sugar crystal, a diamond.
Crystallized – The process of crystal growth or crystal formation.
Dissolve – To mix two substances together and have the molecules of one substance spread out between the molecules of the other substance.
Saturated – When a liquid is holding as much of a solid as it can. It has dissolved all of the solid it can hold.
Supersaturated – When a liquid is holding as much of a solid as it can…but then can dissolve a little more because it is heated.

 

 

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Solubility – Sharpie Pen Tie Dye

Solubility – Sharpie Pen Tie Dye

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What You Need:srpmesssetup

  • White T-Shirt
  • Permanent Markers (Sharpies)
  • Plastic Cup
  • Rubber Band
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Dropper

Stretch part of the white t-shirt over the top of the plastic cup and secure it with the rubber band – it will look like a little drum. Choose one of the colors of srpmessbandSharpie pen and make dots in the center of the t-shirt circle. Choose another color and make more dots. Repeat. The circle of color should be about the size of a quarter. Now slowly squeeze about 20 drops of rubbing alcohol into the center of the circle of dots. Drip the rubbing alcohol really slowly. What do you see happening to the ink? Let the ink dry for about 5 minutes and then you can move the cup to a different part of the shirt. When you are done making colorful circles put the shirt in the dryer for about 15 mintues to set the colors.srpmessdots

Sharpie pens are permanent markers. That means that the ink will not come off with water. If something will dissolve in water it is soluable. If something will NOT dissolve in water it is called hydrophobic. Permanent marker ink is hydrophobic. The permanent ink WILL dissolve in rubbing alcohol. That is why the colors “run” to make the pretty pattern.

srpmessrainbow

Science Project Idea:

Try this method of tie dying with different kinds of markers and pens. Test whether the ink in the pens is soluable or hydrophobic. HINT: the word “washable” would be a clue to help you guess the answer to that question.

Here are some books and websites that will help you explore more about soluability and why sharpies and alcohol make such great 5 minute tie dye:

Mix It Up Mixtures and Solutions Mixtures and Solutions

Words to Know:

Soluable - Able to dissolve in water.
Dissolve – When a solid comes apart and spreads out into a liquid…like kool aid in water.
Hydrophobic – Not able to dissolve in water.

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Saturation – Growing Crystals

Saturation – Growing Crystals

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Crystals are made when a substance has atoms or molecules that form in a very organized, repeating, 3D pattern. Usually when we think of crystals we think of some well-known gemstones like diamonds or rubies, but there are some very common crystals too. Sugar, ice, snowflakes, salt…all of these are crystals. You can make your own crystals grow.

You will need:srpcrystalpour

  • 2 Glasses or Jars
  • 1 Plate
  • 1 Spoon
  • 2 Paper Clips
  • Hot Tap Water
  • Piece of Yarn or Cotton String, about 6 inches long
  • Baking Soda

srpcrystalstring1Fill each glass with water. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to each glass. Stir the mixture. If all of the baking soda dissolves, add a little more baking soda and stir. Add baking soda until the water can’t dissolve it anymore, the mixture is saturated. That means the water is holding as much of the baking soda as it can. You can add a few drops of food coloring to each glass to make the crystals colorful. Tie a paper clip to each end of the piece of yarn or string. Drop one paperclip into each glass letting the string dangle in a smile shape in between the glasses but not touching the plate. Watch the string over the next few days to see the crystals form along the string.

The picture on the right shows you what the srpcrystalsgrowth2baking soda crystals will look like after a few days. As the days go by and the water in the baking soda solution evaporates, the level of the water will go down. Make sure the end of the string with the paper clip on it stays submerged in the baking soda water in the glass.

Science Experiment Idea

Grow more than one kind of crystal. Use salt, sugar, and baking soda. Keep a chart as you observe how the crystals grow over the next few weeks. Which one do you think will grow the biggest? Which one will form the fastest?

Here is a video that shows you some super fast crystal growing:

Here are some books and websites that give you ideas for making crystals. You can grow crystals using salt, sugar, baking soda and many other substances.

Science Rocks Science Projects for Curious Kids Mixtures and Solutions Crystal and Gem
What Are Crystals? Let's Rock Crystals Groovy Gems

Words to Know:
Crystal
– A solid whose atoms or molecules are arranged in a 3-dimensional repeating pattern. Examples: A snowflake, a sugar crystal, a diamond.
Crystallized – The process of crystal growth or crystal formation.
Dissolve – To mix two substances together and have the molecules of one substance spread out between the molecules of the other substance.
Saturated – When a liquid is holding as much of a solid as it can. It has dissolved all of the solid it can hold.

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Polymers – Cornstarch Goo

Polymers – Cornstarch Goo

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Today’s project has three great elements, it’s easy, it’s fun and it’s a big mess!srpcornstarchsetup2

 

What You Need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Measuring Cup
  • Cookie Sheet or Tray – with sides!
  • Gallon Size Ziploc Bag (optional – for storage)

Put 1 cup of cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Add water slowly to the cornstarch – about 1/2 cup. Mix the cornstarch and water with your hands until it starts to feel like a sticky glue.  Try to pick up a handful of the goo. Squeeze your hand around the goo to make a fist around it. What happens? Now relax your hand. What happens now? Pour the goo onto a cookie sheet or tray. Make sure the sheet or tray has sides! Lay your hand on top of the goo and leave it there for a few seconds. Pull your hand straight up and watch what happens.

srpcornstarchdrips2Cornstarch goo is an anomaly – that means it’s weird! It doesn’t act like it should. Sir Isaac Newton is famous for figuring out certain rules that apply to things on earth. One of his rules is that matter can take three forms: solid, liquid and gas. Liquids flow and take the shape of the container they are in. The cornstarch goo seems like a liquid because it flows off your fingers and it takes the shape of the container you put it in. But when you squeeze the goo…it turns into a solid. So which is it? A liquid or a solid? Cornstarch goo is called a non-Newtonian fluid because it doesn’t behave by Sir Isaac Newton’s rules.

Cornstarch goo is also a polymer. That means it’s molecules are arranged in a long chain. When the chain of molecules stretches…like the goo flowing off the fingers in this photo, the goo behaves like a liquid and flows. As soon as the goo has pressure applied to it – like when you squeeze it in your fist or when you rest your hand on it in the tray, it behaves like a solid and feels stiff and strong.

Usually matter turns into a liquid when it is heated and when liquid is heated it “gets runnier.” How easily a liquid flows is called viscosity. Water has a low viscosity and flows fast. Honey has a high viscosity and flows slowly. If you heat honey or lava…it flows faster. That is one of Sir Isaac’s rules too…that the viscosity of liquids goes up as the liquid is heated. With cornstarch goo, the viscosity changes when you put pressure on it instead of when you heat it. Weird again!

Science Project Idea: Get three bowls and measure 1 cup of a powdered substance into each bowl. 1 cup of cornstarch in bowl #1, 1 cup of baking soda in bowl #2 and 1 cup of flour in bowl #3. If you step back and look at the bowls they will all look pretty much the same – a bowl with white powder in it. Now pour 1/2 cup of water into each bowl and mix each bowl with your fingers. Do the mixtures behave the same? How do they behave differently? How would you describe each mixture? A solid or a liquid? You could also try baking soda and powdered sugar.

Here are some websites and books that will help you understand cornstarch goo:

Science Rocks Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes Plastics and Polymers Plastics and Polymers Science Fair Projects

Words to Know:

Polymers – Molecules arranged in a long chain.
Non-Newtonian Fluid – A fluid that doesn’t flow like you would expect when you put pressure on it.
Liquid – A state of matter. In the liquid state, matter can flow or take the shape of the container it is in.
Viscosity – How resistant to flowing a liquid is. Water has low viscosity and flows fast. Honey has high viscosity and flows slow.

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Polymers – Borax Goo

Polymers – Borax Goo

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What You Need:

  • White Glue
  • Borax (In the Laundry Detergent Aisle)
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Ziploc Bag
  • Measuring Cups
  • Spoon
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Food Coloring (Optional)

Measure 1 cup water into an empty bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of Borax to the water and stir until the Borax is dissolved. Now put 1/2 cup white glue in a ziploc bag and add 1 cup water. Seal the bag and squish to mix the glue and water. Now add the water/Borax mixture to the ziploc bag. Reseal the bag and squish it some more. After you mix it for awhile empty the ziploc bag out onto the cookie sheet and mix it with your hands. Borax Goo is like Cornstarch Goo – it’s a non-Newtonian fluid. That means that sometimes it acts like a liquid and sometimes it acts like a solid.

Sir Isaac Newton is famous for figuring out certain rules that apply to things on earth. One of his rules is that matter can take three forms: solid, liquid and gas. Liquids flow and take the shape of the container they are in. The Gak/Flubber/Gluep seems like a liquid because it flows off your fingers and it takes the shape of the container you put it in. But when you squeeze the Gak/Flubber/Gluep…it turns into a solid. So which is it? A liquid or a solid? It’s a non-Newtonian fluid because it doesn’t behave by Sir Isaac Newton’s rules.

Gak/Flubber/Gluep is also a polymer. That means it’s molecules are arranged in a long chain. When the chain of molecules stretches…like the goo flowing off the fingers in this photo, the goo behaves like a liquid and flows. As soon as the Gak/Flubber/Gluep has pressure applied to it – like when you squeeze it in your fist or when you rest your hand on it in the tray, it behaves like a solid and feels stiff and strong.

Usually matter turns into a liquid when it is heated and when liquid is heated it “gets runnier.” How easily a liquid flows is called viscosity. Water has a low viscosity and flows fast. Honey has a high viscosity and flows slowly. If you heat honey or lava…it flows faster. That is one of Sir Isaac’s rules too…that the viscosity of liquids goes up as the liquid is heated. With Gak/Flubber/Gluep, the viscosity is changes when you put pressure on it instead of when you heat it.

Science Project Idea: Get three bowls and measure 1 cup of a powdered substance into each bowl. 1 cup of borax in bowl #1, 1 cup of baking soda in bowl #2 and 1 cup of flour in bowl #3. If you step back and look at the bowls they will all look pretty much the same – a bowl with white powder in it. Now pour 1/2 cup of water into each bowl and mix each bowl with your fingers. Do the mixtures behave the same? How do they behave differently? How would you describe each mixture? A solid or a liquid? You could also try baking soda and powdered sugar and cornstarch.

Here are some websites and books to help you experiment with your own slimy Gak/Flubber/Gluep or whatever you want to call it.

Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes Plastics and Polymers Plastics and Polymers Science Fair Projects Experimental Chemistry

Words to Know:

Polymers – Molecules arranged in a long chain.
Non-Newtonian Fluid – A fluid that doesn’t flow like you would expect when you put pressure on it.
Liquid – A state of matter. In the liquid state, matter can flow or take the shape of the container it is in.
Viscosity – How resistant to flowing a liquid is. Water has low viscosity and flows fast. Honey has high viscosity and flows slow.

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