Our STEM expert Gina, loves coming up with fun and easy STEM challenges for your family. Using a few simple materials you can create these easy STEM crystallized hearts for Valentine’s Day!
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Valentine’s Day may mean chocolates and flowers to some, but not me. With three boys I have to get creative when I want them to be lovey dovey with me. Knowing how much they love easy STEM challenges, I was able to grab their attention by implementing this fun scientific experiment. With a few simple materials we made these homemade heart. We loved sitting together and watching the crystals grow as we learned about chemistry. Bonus for mom: I was gifted sparkly hearts from my favorite Valentines’!
This STEM experiment does require patience as you have to wait twenty-four hours to let the crystals grow. As the boys continually checked on their creations, I had the chance to implement some educational factors into our cool day. Here are a few fun facts to share with your little ones:
- Chemistry is all about liquids, solids and soluble solutions. Since we left solid particles in a liquid mixture, particles settled to form crystals. * This is why it’s important to not touch or remove the hearts during their crystallization process *
- Boiling water allows for the borax to dissolve and create a saturated solution. Therefore, by adding more powder than the liquid, the molecules in the water move farther apart allowing the powder to be dissolved.
- As it cools down there will be more particles in the water as the molecules move back together. Some of the particles will start to settle on the pipe cleaners and form crystals. Once a tiny seed crystal is started, more will continue to bond with that small one to form bigger crystals.
Easy STEM Crystallized Hearts
- Borax (This is a chemical powder and must be used under adult supervision! )
- Mason Jars (Do not need lids)
- Popsicle sticks
- Pipe cleaners (The more colorful, the better!)
Step 1: Mold the pipe cleaners into hearts. Depending on the size of the mason jar, you want to ensure the heart is not too big since they should not be touching the sides or bottom.
Step 2: Loop the string through the heart and tie to the Popsicle stick. Allow the heart to hang about a half inch below the stick so it’s able to hang into the solution. I taped the string to the stick to keep it straight.
Step 3: In addition, lay the Popsicle stick across the top of the jar so the heart dangles into the middle of the container.
Step 4: Boil enough water to fill the jar high enough to cover the heart. For instance, my jar took two cups of water so we measured out two cups into the pot on the stove and boiled one at a time.
Step 5: For the Borax, the ratio is as follows- 2 tablespoons for every one cup of boiling water. The more borax, the larger the crystals! Pour the water into the jar, then add the tablespoons of borax. Hint: it’s easier to remove the heart and stick to do this step
Step 6: Let sit! It’s fun to check periodically and watch the crystals grow, but leave untouched for at least twenty-four hours for maximum growth.