I bet that you didn’t know that the American Crystallographic Association was based in Buffalo. I didn’t until I saw that University at Buffalo researcher Jason Benedict was promoting the United States Crystal Growing Competition, which started yesterday.
Benedict is asking K-12 students to grow crystals made from aluminum potassium sulfate (a nontoxic chemical used in water purification) and submit them to the competition, which will then be judged accordingly. Sponsors include Ward’s Science and the UB Department of Chemistry.
What is fascinating about this competition is that Benedict is anticipating that contestants will grow rather large single crystals in a relatively short period of times. It all starts with a seed crystal. In just six weeks, incredibly beautiful crystals can be grown through a process that Benedict describes in the following videos:
The first stage of the process takes contestants/students throughout the development stages of growing the seed crystal. The instructions start with compiling all of the ingredients needed to pull off the task, including the types of laboratory accessories that will be required to grow the single crystals. Take a look at the following video to learn how to maintain the cleanest possible solution needed to pour into the crystallization dish when the time comes. And don’t forget that crystals like to grow in dark, noise and vibration free environments, per Benedict’s instructions. So let’s get down to harvesting your large seed crystals (should take about four days):
The next part of the project is getting the seed crystals to grow into single crystals, and then pinpointing the best crystal out of the bunch. The following video is designed to get you to the finish line, and hopefully on your way to winning the competition (for those that have already entered it). And for those of you who just want to own some quality single crystals that you grew from scratch, this is all you need to achieve personal crystal gratification.
The crystal growing competition is open to K-12 students from around the country. Benedict is looking for the most significant and the most flawless looking crystals, which means that clarity and size are equally important.
If you think that the process of growing crystals is all fun and games, there are limitless modern day applications for crystals that include environmental clean-ups and to helping with cancer treatments. Personally, I’m still amazed that a significant single crystal can be harvested in such a short time frame. May the best and the brightest crystal win!
What: U.S. Crystal Growing Competition
Who: About 40 teams from dozens of locations nationwide, from Branch, Ark. to the Bronx and California’s Bay Area. Locally, the Dr. Charles R. Drew Magnet school and Charter School for Applied Technologies have participants.
When: Crystal-growing takes place Oct. 20 to Nov. 24. Judging is scheduled for early December.
Photos: www.Buffalo.edu – Douglas Levere