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Borax Crystal Lesson Plan

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Learning about crystals is a fun way to learn about different types of solutions. This lesson plan explores crystal making and then allows students to design and conduct their own experiments.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define terms associated with making crystals: unsaturated, saturated and supersaturated
  • Describe how and why crystals form

Length

  • 2 days (and an additional day to observe crystal growth)

Materials

  • Sticky notes
  • Optional: image of, or actual crystal rock
  • Stove or hot plates
  • Borax
  • String
  • Beakers or kettles to heat water
  • Oven mitts
  • 8 oz. jars
  • Pencils
  • Spoons
  • Water
  • Copies of the Growing Crystals with Borax Project, one for each student.
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Epsom Salt
  • Science notebooks

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3

Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.9

Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.

Instructions

  • Divide the board into three sections: what I know about crystals, what causes crystals to grow and how do I grow crystals from Borax?
  • Begin by asking students to jot down any words associated with the word 'crystal.'
  • Tell them to choose something from their list, write it on a sticky and affix it to the board under the 'what I know about crystals' section. Take a moment to go over some of the sticky notes.
    • Optional: have an image of, or actual crystal rock present for students to view.
  • Introduce the terms 'saturated' and 'supersaturated' and complete a demonstration for students.

Demonstration

  • Fill a beaker with water and add some salt. Stir, so no salt is on the bottom. Inform students that the water can 'hold' all of the salt and, since it can hold even more salt, it is called 'unsaturated.'
  • Keep adding salt until the water cannot 'hold' anymore (as is evident by the salt settling on the bottom). Explain that the mixture is 'saturated.'
  • Now heat the water and stir. Students should see that suddenly the water can 'hold' more salt.
  • Now allow the water to cool. Students should note that the water continues to 'hold' the salt and it is 'supersaturated.'
  • Tell students that a material needs to be supersaturated for crystals to grow.
  • Before you perform the experiment, have students draw an unsaturated, saturated and supersaturated solution in their science notebooks.

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