Watching Crystals Grow

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Learners will compare the growth rate and appearance of crystals forming on small rocks to those growing on miscellaneous objects. Learners will also investigate how temperature (warm vs. cool room) affects crystal growth. Learners will record their observations at the start and then again after 3 hours, 1 day, and 2 days. This resource includes discussion questions to elicit reflection and help learners draw conclusions. Use this activity to introduce learners to the basics of mineral science as well as the scientific process.

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)

  • ten or more shallow bowls (such as petri dishes)
  • five small, clean rocks
  • four small miscellaneous objects (such as nails, aluminum foil, shells, or marbles)
  • pan for heating, heat source
  • spoon and measuring cup
  • four cups Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)
  • two cups water
  • magnifying glass or microscope
  • flashlight
  • observation sheets
  • food coloring


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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