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Sugar Crystal Challenge

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Sugar Crystal Challenge

This lesson focuses on surface area and how the shape of sugar crystals may differ as they are grown from sugars of different coarseness. Learners explore surface area, nanostructures, and work in teams and participate in hands-on activities. Safety: need an adult to handle the very hot water.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Resource Sheets
  • Worksheets
  • Microscope or camera scope
  • Two clean thermal glass cups or measuring cups of at least 4 cup capacity
  • Access to warm water
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 2 lengths of thin cotton string that are 1.5 times as long as the cup is tall
  • 2 pencils or sticks
  • Weight to hang on string (washer or screw)
  • 3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3 cups of powdered or confectioners' sugar
  • 2 cups very hot water (poured by adult)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Medical Technology
      • Transportation
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
    • Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, IEEE,


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