Typically summer for us means a lot of day adventures like creek crawling and road trips. However with a new baby in the house the amount that we have been able to do this is nowhere near what my older kids are used to. And that’s ok, it’s perfectly fine. It just means that I have a bunch of bored kids on my hands. Easy science experiments such as this Magic Crystal Tree or the DIY Floam that we made the other day have been my sanity!
This simple science project uses items that you probably already have around your home, is an incredibly easy set up, and has almost immediate results. This is a great experiment for kids that are just starting to get curious about science!
Items Needed for a Magic Crystal Tree:
- Household Ammonia
- Sea Salt
- Non-corrugated Cardboard (like from a product packaging)
- Bowl/Measuring Spoons
The bluing will probably be the hardest item to find if you do not already have it at home. It is typically sold in the laundry isle or can be found on Amazon.
When picking out cardboard keep in mind that product print may mess with the results of your experiment. Because of this, I would try to find a cardboard with no print or gloss on it.
How to Create a Crystal Tree:
Using your cardboard you are going to cut two pieces that are identical in size. Cut out your tree shape. In one piece cut a line from the bottom up. One the other piece cut a line from the top down. This will allow you to slide the two pieces together creating a tree that stands up on it’s own. If your tree does not stand up on it’s own game pieces from a game such as Candy Land will help your tree stand.
Using your markers (or food-dye) add some color to your tree. We experimented with coloring just the tips of our tree and made hypothesizes on which color would show the best.
Then you make your “Magic” solution and mix it all together.
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon bluing
- 1/2 tablespoon ammonia
Place your tree into it’s tray or bowl and pour the solution into the bottom of the container. You will immediately see the cardboard begin to pull the solution up the tree.
Within 15 minutes we had crystals beginning to form. It can take anywhere up to an hour. How fast your crystals begin to grow on your tree will depend on the humidity of your location. Also, the more ammonia you use the quicker this will go.
How Does it Work?!
The main principle at work here are capillary action, This is the same process (involving microscopic tubes) that allows plants and trees to draw water and nutrients up from the soil, through their stems, branches, and trunks and into their leaves, flowers, and fruit. Kids also get to witness evaporation, crystaliztion, and saturation with this project.
After the magic solution has been drawn throughout the tree by capillary action, the solution begins to evaporate. The ammonia expedites the evaporation process as it evaporates quicker than water.
The crystals are what is left on the tree as the magic solution evaporates.
We had a blast with this simple science experiment and hope you do too! If you are looking for more fun and simple experiments make sure to swing by our science page!