Mary Porter Green is Founder, President and Chief Curiosity Officer for Curiosity Zone, the award-winning hands-on science center for kids in located in Ashburn, Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.) Through fun, familiar projects and activities, Curiosity Zone inspires kids ages 2 to 11 to explore, discover and learn about the world around them. Through teaching science to more than 60,000 young kids over the last five years, Curiosity Zone has developed a proprietary, proven curriculum with more than 160 engaging science labs designed to inspire young kids in science. The labs cover all of the major sciences, including chemistry, physics, life science, earth science, weather, and astronomy, as well as concepts in engineering and math. Curiosity Zone’s weekly classes, summer camps, birthday parties and workshops offer a smarter enrichment experience for twenty-first century kids, and its toy store is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers interested in inspiring young kids in science.
Science Project Holiday Gifts - Crystal Ornaments
Mary Porter Green from Curiosity Zone demonstrates how to create crystal ornaments.
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Mary Porter Green: Hi! I am Mary Porter Green from Curiosity Zone. Today we are doing science experiments you can do with your kids in your kitchen that you can actually turn into really cool holiday gifts. So the next experiment we are going to do is make these really cool crystal ornaments and they make great ornaments for your tree or you can put them on top of gift packages too, they make wonderful, wonderful gifts. The materials you are going to need are borax which is a laundry booster that you can get in most grocery stores in the laundry section. You are going to need some pipe cleaners, some kind of cup or container preferably a plastic one that you can dispose off because the crystals will form along the sides of it as well. A pencil or something else that you can let across top of a cup, pencil works great. You are going to need a spoon, you are going to need some boiling water and you are going to need a container to mix it all up in and then finally to do some decorating at the end, you are going to need some beads or something similar to make it look really cool. The first step is to take a cup of very, very hot water boiling or close to boiling and obviously be careful about letting your kids, especially little ones getting close to boiling water. But you want to take a table spoon of borax; we are actually going to add three tablespoons, one at a time. You want to take it and stir it into the water until it dissolves. And you will see the water goes from being cloudy to not quite as cloudy and that's when you know that you can add your next table spoon and what are doing is creating what's called a super saturated solution and what that means is that the solids are dissolving into the liquid and it becomes a solution, but eventually dissolve so much solid into the liquid that the liquid can't hold the solid anymore and this particular solid is actually a crystal, borax is a crystal.
Crystals are defined as a substance that has molecules that are in a regularly repeating pattern. Salt and sugar are other examples of crystals and you have lot of crystals in your kitchen. You can actually check them out and if you have a microscope, you can look at them because they are really cool to look at. I believe salt is a square and sugar has a very different shape. But anyway what's going to happen here is we are going to create the super saturated solution and when the liquid is hot it can actually hold a lot more of the borax crystals than when it is cold. So you are going to dissolve the borax, three table spoons and then once you have got it all dissolved you are going to make your ornaments and hang your ornament down into the solution and as the solution cools, the crystals will form, just like they have here. So that's step two, once have our super saturated solution which is an awesome term to teach your little ones that will impress grandma and grandpa over the holidays. Basically you want to take just a simple old pipe cleaner and make it of any shape that you want, I mean any shape; sky is the limit and this is actually a great time to talk to your little ones about different shapes. Geometry, what's a square, what's a circle, what's a triangle. So in an example, we made star. This is actually pretty hard to do although you can do it if you spend a few minutes at it. Anyways you are going to take all your different designs and you are going to wrap them around the pencil and you are going to pour your solution actually, you can leave it in the beaker if you would like. I recommend you throw it in something that you can throw away, something plastic because what will happen is as this solution cools, crystals will form and they won't just form on the ornament, they are actually going to form all around the glass too.
Now if you do it in a glass, the way you can get it clean is to just make it hot again. Because it will go -- the crystals will go back into the solution when you heat it up or you just run hot water over it. But the easiest way to do it is just put it in something you can throw away. So you are going to throw your solution into disposable cup and then you are going to just put your ornaments on pencil and what's going to happen is the pencil is going to rest on top and your ornaments are going to hang down inside. So we will put this one and let's put our circle down in here and you can actually put any number of ornaments into your solution, but you need to watch it because if they start to stick together eventually the crystals will connect and they will harden and your ornaments will be stuck together and your kids will be sad. And the other thing to do is make sure that your ornament isn't touching the bottom because again as the crystals from you don't want your ornament to get stuck to the bottom of the cup. And what you are going to do is just leave it in solution until the crystals start to form and this is the coolest part of all because as the solution starts to cool you will start to see these globby crystals start to grow on the sides of the pipe cleaner.
And so it is really fun to take it out every five minutes and what is been growing on it and if you want to speed up the process because kids sometimes like it to be an immediate thing, throw it in the freezer because the freezer will make it cool down that much faster, will cause the crystals to form that much faster. I did it at my house and it took about 5 or 10 minutes before crystals started to form. So the crystal should be finished and look like this within an hour or two of you cooling the solution. And you will see there is a little bit of powdery stuff on the outside and you can kind of brush that off, but underneath should be really solid crystals. And what we like to do is decorate them a little bit more. So what we have got are these really cool pony beads and what these do -- they actually react to UV rays and so if you put this on a tree next to the sunlight, they will turn to different colors, but you can use any kind of beads that you want.
Put a couple of little beads on there and decorate it and then bend the top and cut it down if you need to. This one I think has been cut in half and then when you are finished, put it on top of a gift or hang it on a tree and talk about the crystals that you made in your kitchen. For our next experiment we are going to actually make bubble arts.