Sunday, October 9, 2016

Science Experiment of the Week:
Make a Crystal Snowflake
By Kali Gipson
  • String
  • Wide-mouth jar
  • White pipe cleaners
  • Blue food coloring (optional)
  • Boiling water
  • Borax
  • Small wooden rod or pencil
  1. Cut a white pipe cleaner into three equal sized pieces then twist these pieces together by their centers making a six-sided star shape. Make sure the points are even by trimming the ends
  2. Take the top of one of the pipe cleaners and attach a string to it then attach the other end of the string to the wooden rod or pencil
  3. Fill the jar with boiling water
  4. For each cup of water add 3 tablespoons of borax adding one tablespoon at a time. Stir until the mixture is dissolved don’t worry if some of the borax settles at the bottom of the jar
  5. Add some of the blue food coloring if you want your snowflake to have a bluish tinge
  6. Put the pipe cleaner snowflake into the jar so that the rod or pencil is resting on the mouth of the jar and the snowflake is sitting freely in the borax solution
  7. Leave the snowflake overnight and in the morning the snowflake will be covered in crystals

How It works:
Crystals are made up of molecules arranged in a repeating pattern that extends in all three dimensions. Borax is also known as sodium borate, it is usually found in a white powder made up of colorless crystals that are easily dissolved in water. You can dissolve more borax in warm water than cold water because the molecules are moving around faster and more spread apart, allowing more room for borax to dissolve. When the solution cools the water molecules move closer together and it can't hold as much borax solution. As a result, crystals start forming on top of one another creating the crystal snowflake.

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