Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sweet science









 


The small Bears' school has a focused-learning theme for the year. The theme is water, with everything that encompasses. Science, social studies, art and even math can be taught around this theme, which has been interesting and challenging for everyone. We're focusing on water in our homeschooling too, building on the lessons they receive in school and creating our own projects as well. There's a lot to learn about water. A few weeks ago, the GB was intrigued with crystal formation after we watched a video about the subject. We decided to make some crystals of our own and boy, was it fun! They were just simple sugar crystals but it was my first time making them and I think I learned as much as the kids did. It was easy, but patience is necessary while you wait for the crystals to form. Ours took about three weeks to reach what we thought was a good size and shape; the bigger the crystals, the more there will be to study and observe.

If you want to give it a try, I'll share what we did. Sugar crystals should be made with a ratio of 1 part water to 3 parts sugar. For simplicity, we measured our sugar and water in regular kitchen 1-cup measures. We heated the water to boiling in a saucepan, stirring in the sugar to dissolve. The syrup created is funky! It's unbelievably thick and gooey. I'm not a candy-maker but I imagine there must a similar stage in that process. We poured our syrup into a large glass jar (ours came from Ragu pasta sauce, I think it's a 26-ounce size? It was an old jar already missing the label). We weren't sure what would work best for a "base" on which the crystals could form, so we used two options: a couple of long, thin wooden skewers, and a few lengths of monofilament (fishing line-type stuff) tied onto a set of child's plastic chopsticks, which could lay across the mouth of the jar. We left the jar in a quiet place on a metal baking tray for about three weeks, checking it periodically and making observations.

When the crystals seemed big enough, the steady-handed Bear chipped them out of the hardened syrup with a fork. We pulled out the sticks and strings and there were lots of sugar crystals! The sticks formed much larger structures but the strings looked prettier, glittery like glass beads. We dug out as much as we could and left it to dry on waxed paper on a plate. We made observations and we ate some too! They dissolved quickly in our mouths but they sort of crackled on the tongue first, like mildly fizzy Pop Rocks. It was exciting! And messy - you should have seen my kitchen counter. But it was for a good cause and ant season is just about over anyway. We all loved this experiment; the crystals worked great and were fun to taste, and we all learned something. Sweet.

31 comments:

  1. Your family has succeeded where ours failed miserably. We never could get the sugar crystals to form properly. :-)

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  2. I can imagine the family fun you had in the kitchen !!
    And your pictures are soooo pretty... The first photo, ah, it just exhales family bliss !! Dad & the bears, so concentrated, I love it !!

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  3. That is amazing, working together as a family and learning as a family wonderful.

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  4. How does the saying go??? If a picture can tell a thousand words, well, yours certainly did!!!!!!! Have a fab weekend!!!
    Love
    AMarie
    xxxx

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  5. This is a fun and interesting experiment and it's great that you all learned something.
    Hope you're having a lovely weekend! x

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  6. Brilliant Jennifer! Loved your flowers from your last post too. xx

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  7. Awe it's such fun growing crystals!!
    I love the beautiful handwriting!
    V x

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  8. I love this! What an awesome experiment.

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  9. What a fun experiment! I love the pictures. The small bears look so interested. I'm sure it was a great learning experiment.

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  10. I do love a science moment. It makes me wistful for my lab time. It's a really good idea and something i think BigR would love!

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  11. Oh how fun!! I should go to your school because my attempt to make this didn't turn out so well. Perhaps I'll give it a try following your directions. Thanks for sharing :)

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  12. What a great family project. Your daughter's smile says it all.

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  13. That is a great experiment! I think it's so great that you do those things with the kids.
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  14. That looks like a lot of fun. Sticky, but fun! X

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  15. Ohhh I love a bit of science! We have never been terribly successful with any kind of crystal. I might try this winter with the little ones. Cx

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  16. How fascinating, Jennifer. I have never heard of this experiment, and aren't the crystals lovely? I'm sure the little bears loved this. You are such an excellent parent, home schooling in an exciting way.

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  17. I remember doing crystal experiments with my two when they were young. Lots of fun.

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  18. How fun!! You guys are such great parents. I love this idea.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  19. Looks like lots of fun.
    Clare x

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  20. It's lovely to see the whole family involved in a fun experiment like this. :)

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  21. What a great experiment. I remember doing this with a salt solution and sewing thread when I was little. I must give it a go with the boys, they'd love it. Especially if we did it with sugar and they could eat some afterwards! CJ xx

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  22. Interesting, Jennifer! I have never made crystals. Thanks for the intro to the process. xx

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  23. Your daughter's ecpression is priceless! I love this idea and am going to have a go with Olly. I think he will enjoy it very much
    Leanne xx

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  24. That is the most beautiful homemade rock candy I have seen! Excellent and delicious! xo Jen

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  25. That looks fun, it made me smile! Sarah x

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  26. What fun, I bet my boys would love this! I think it's great that you are bringing science alive for your kids!

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  27. How interesting! My kids are teens now but I just remember how much I loved all the experiments and fun we had together ... Enjoy it , they grow up so fast. How fun !

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  28. What a fun experiment for all of you, Jennifer! I really love seeing how involved your hubby is with the children. Our kiddos are like that with their children. It makes me so happy to see this trait in your generation of parents. My generation was mostly "the moms'" involvement, because the dads were 'workaholics." I'm not too sure about the current generation of young adults -- they (big generalization) seem to act more "entitled," with a "what's in it for me" attitude. Anyway, I feel proud that your generation seems to have figured out what's most important.....children and family.

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  29. Oh my that looks like fun, the crystals on the string do look very pretty, but I'm not sure I could wait that long to see them, I'm very impatient! One year at primary school we did theme focused learning on the topic of ice... it was my favourite year! x

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