Caroll, how does this relate to science? What kind of lesson can I put with this?
Have no fear! I am here to explain.
What did the lab explain?
This lab is meant to explain the idea of crystal growth. In this experiment you can watch the crystals growing. (You don't want to sit and stare at the cup though... remember 'a watched pot never boils.')
|This is as fun as watching paint dry...|
Why does this happen?
How do the sugar crystals form? Well, when you heat the sugar water you allow for more sugar to be added. If you had a cup of room temperature water and added two cups of sugar only some of it would dissolve and most of the sugar would sit in the bottom of the cup. However if you heat the water the sugar will dissolve. This is because heating the solution makes the molecules move faster and allows the sugar to dissolve into the water. This causes a supersaturated solution of sugar and water.
Crystals cannot form without something to grow on. In our experiment the skewer is our crystal holder. In nature it can be a rock or even another crystal. Crystal growth depends on solution (or chemical) type, time, temperature and the space available. A sugar solution is not going to produce quartz crystals. All minerals have their own chemical makeup and a crystal's growth and structure display this. Some minerals have specific shapes that they grow in. Sugar crystals grow very quickly but minerals like quartz, chert, and calcite take a long time to grow.
|Calcite Left; Quartz Right|
|This is what happens when you leave it sit too long.|