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Crystal Gardens
Crystal Gardens Intro

Crystals are not alive, but they can grow. Growing crystals requires a little time and patience. If you have both (plus a few other ingredients), you can grow your own crystal gardens.

Before You Start:
Get permission from a parent before doing these projects. Obey all warnings on the ammonia and bluing labels.

For a printable version of this project, click here.

• 3 clean, dry sponges
• Aluminum pie plate or cake pan
• Glass measuring cup
• 1/4 cup table salt
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup laundry bluing (You can buy bluing at the grocery store under the brand name of Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing.)
• 2 tablespoons household ammonia
• Mixing bowl
• Metal spoon
• Blue and green food colouring

1. Arrange the sponges in the pie plate. (You can cut the sponges to fit in the pie plate if needed.)
2. Pour the salt, water, bluing, and ammonia into the mixing bowl and stir well to mix.
3. Pour this mixture over the sponges and then spoon out the rest of the thick portion, spreading it out evenly over the sponges.
4. Sprinkle drops of food colouring randomly on the sponges.
5. Let the pan sit. It may take hours or even days to see the results.

What’s Happening
In a crystal, atoms or molecules join together in a pattern that repeats itself over and over to create a certain shape. A crystal grows by adding atoms or molecules to all its sides in the exact same pattern as the atoms and molecules that were added before.

Special Thanks
Thanks to the Canadian Society for Chemistry which allowed us to reproduce Crystal Gardens from their publication “Discovering Chemistry”.

Copyright © 2003 Peter Piper Publishing Inc.
Last updated April 14, 2003.

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