This is a fun post for so many reasons. First, I love DIY posts. Also, who doesn't love rock candy? This is a great (and easy) DIY project that you can do in the classroom or at home with kids. If you don't have kids, you can still tackle this delicious DIY, too!
This is the United Nation's International Year of Crystallography, so I've been thinking of fun ways to incorporate this theme into a second grade (year three) curriculum. One of our objectives for the year is about geology, so I thought this would be a perfect experiment to have alongside our other materials. They have been learning quite extensively about the scientific method, so we continued with that in this experiment. Our high school science teacher was kind enough to allow us into the lab to see a grown-up version of our experiment as well! This was so exciting for the kids. They were able to wear lab coats, use a microscope, see a bunson burner, and check out some chemistry in action.
Our version was a quite a bit milder, but the students are able to compare and contrast the two experiments in our results. For the kid-friendly version, you will need the following items:
- A jar (I used cut plastic soda bottles.)
- A straw (or other sturdy object)
- A heating source
- Patience ;)
First, boil the water and add sugar until it stops dissolving. Keep mixing the entire time as you complete this step. Remove the water from the heat when all the sugar has dissolved.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, you can assemble the rest of the materials. The string can be taped to the straw, and you can use a paperclip or something to help the string stay down. I didn't do this, because I just got the string wet before hand, so it would stay suspended in the water. *Another option is to use a wooden stick and clothespins to make the traditional rock candy lollipops.
Let the water and sugar mixture cool. Let the child pick a color that they like for their rock candy crystals. They can help mix the color in at this point.
Pour the water and sugar mixture into your jar or vessel. In the photo above, you can see we did not add enough water. The crystals were very small, and we had to redo the experiment. This was good for us in terms of the scientific method, but it would be nicer to have it work the first time! It is best to fill up the jar as far with water as you want crystals to form. This is probably about 3/4 the jar.
The last part is the hardest...you wait. It takes about a week for the crystals to take on their true form. During the week, the children enjoy using a magnifying glass to check out what's happening. They can document the changes or just discuss it. It was really interesting to see the big changes that would happen overnight.
These are safe to eat, so once the crystals have formed to your desire, you can feel free to dump the water and enjoy!
Let me know if you have any issues, and I will do my best to try to find the solution! Happy experimenting!