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    Lawrence Hall of Science

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In this earth science/math/art activity, learners use simple ingredients to grow crystals and examine the repeating geometric shapes and patterns. Learners compare the growth of crystals from four types of crystal-starters (table salt, Borax, sand, and Epsom salt) to see which starter grows the most crystals in 14 days. Learners report their results online and find out what other learners discovered. Afterward, learners can use the crystals they grew to create works of art.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • warm tap water
  • food coloring (optional)
  • 4 oz. measuring cup
  • magnifying glass
  • tall, clear solo cups (6-8 oz.)
  • pipe cleaners
  • stirring stick or spoon
  • pencils, pens or sticks (one for each tall cup)
  • table salt
  • Borax
  • sand
  • Epsom salt
  • marking pen
  • 1/2 tablespoon measure
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • labels
  • computer with internet connection
  • data sheet printout


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


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Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, The Regents of the University of California, ©2009


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