Cursive Crystals

Who doesn’t love crystals? With the holiday season upon us, this fun little experiment could be turned into ornaments for your tree or a festive display your kids can be proud of. This is a great way to practice cursive writing and learning about chemical reactions. This experiment takes patience, but the result is worth the wait.

What You Need:

  • Borax

  • Pipe Cleaners

  • Thread or string

  • Boiling Water

  • Pencil

  • Heat safe glass vessels like this or mason jars (clear glass is best so you can watch the crystals form!)

  • Scissors

  • Paper Towels

How it Works:

It is fairly simple. Borax is a crystal-shaped naturally occurring mineral. It gets ground up and sold as a laundry booster and cleaning agent. When you dissolve it in water, you help it re-form back into its natural state (a crystal). If you heat the water, you can dissolve even more borax into the water. Then, when the water cools, not as much borax can remain in solution. So it crystallizes onto whatever surfaces are available.

Directions:

Step one: Start to form the letters in your name with the pipe cleaners. If you are wanting to practice cursive, have your child make cursive letters. I suggest doubling up on your pipe cleaners per letter to get a thicker layer of crystals.

Step two: Plan an appropriate heat safe vessel to grow your crystals in (the Pyrex or the mason jars).

Step three: Attach your pipe cleaner letters to a small dowel, skewer or wooden pencil.

Step four: Boil a few cups of water and pour into your glass you set aside. Dissolve approximately 3 tablespoons of Borax per cup of water. You’ll want to super saturate the water by making it take on as much borax as possible. A super saturated mixture means lots of crystal growth rather than a few measly ones.

Step five: Lay your pencil or skewer on top of the measuring cup and be sure the pipe cleaner letters are not touching the sides, bottom of the cup or each other. They need room to grow crystals.

Step six: Step back and observe! It will take a few hours (I suggest leaving them in the water overnight).

More directions and examples of this project can be found here and here.

Make sure you tag @themodernteacher when you post your crystal letters!