In honor of Valentine’s Day, we decided to create beautiful crystals! The kids designed their own shapes and were able to take home a gift for a loved one.
- boiling water
- pipe cleaners
- long object, such as a pencil, to place across the mouth of the jar
- glass jar, such as a mason jar or baby food jar
- spoon or something to stir the solution- I used a disposable skewer because I don’t want the Borax to touch anything that I am planning to eat with.
I started by making this experiment at home, as I usually do, so I could have an example and anticipate any issues. First, I boiled water in a kettle. As I waited, I added about four tablespoons of Borax per cup of water into mason jars and baby food jars. I estimated the amount of water and probably added more then I needed to. Then I cut pipe cleaners and shaped them into hearts. I found out the hard way that your shape (heart, spiral, snowflake, etc.) needs to be narrower than the mouth of your jar. I made one heart that, after it formed, was stuck in the jar!
I attached the heart to a string and the string to a pencil. I measured so the heart hung in the center of the jar without touching the bottom or sides of the jar. When the water started boiling, I took the heart out of the jar and added the water. I stirred the solution until all of the Borax dissolved. Next, I placed the heart in the jar. I placed the jar in an area where it wouldn’t be disturbed.
A few notes:
- I started experimenting with this project at home a week prior to when I was going to do it in class. A little warning, the first time that I did it, it did not work. I don’t know what I did wrong. The only thing that I could think of was that my main ingredient, Borax was too old. The box that I was using was about two years old. I am assuming this was the reason because next time, I used a new box of Borax and it worked!
- Doing this with a class of preschoolers was a lot of fun! I wanted the kids to be able to create whatever shape that they wanted to. However, this was very, very time consuming because then I needed to tie the string to the heart and pencil and measure it correctly. If time is an issue, I would make the shapes at home and do the strings all of the same at home. I ended up being very late for the next class.
- Two weeks later, I still have the large heart. It is in really good shape, yet some of the crystals have fallen off. I don’t know how long it will last.
- Here is a video from the St. Louis Science Center, with all of the steps. They suggest using food coloring. I will have to try that next time!