Activity

Crystal shape observation with magnifiers/microscope

Summary
Use magnifiers/microscope to look at common crystals close up to see their shapes.
Science content
Chemistry: Crystals (7)
Earth/Space: Rock cycle, Earth Materials, Natural resources (5)
Lessons activity is in
Materials
  • sugar crystals - granulated sugar (or grow your own by dissolving 3 cups of sugar in 1 cup hot water, then leaving for a few days)
  • salt crystals
  • epsom salt crystals (from the pharmacy, or grow your own)
  • optional: other found/purchased crystals where the shape can be seen e.g. amethyst
  • magnifiers ideally 10X
  • stereo microscope
  • small square of black paper
    Procedure

    Look at real crystals and match their shapes with drawings.

    Under a dissecting microscope: put a few salt/sugar/epsom salt crystals in a small baggie. Place the baggie on black paper to show up the crystal shapes.
    Using a magnifier: look at larger sugar or epsom salt crystals, or crystals in rocks.

    Salt crystals are cubes. They are best seen under a microscope at 20X or 40X.
    Sugar and epsom salt crystals are monoclinic prisms. The smaller crystals of purchased sugar (granulated) or epsom salts (from a pharmacy) best seen under a microscope at 20X or 40X to view the elongated shape with a pointed end. Grow larger sugar or epsom salt crystals and observe with a magnifier or the naked eye.
    Amethyst (a kind of quartz) crystals are hexagonal pyramids. They are large enough to see with the naked eye.

    The atoms in each of the crystals link in a certain pattern, so making a certain shape crystal.

    Attached documents
    Grades taught
    Gr K
    Gr 1
    Gr 2
    Gr 3
    Gr 4
    Gr 5
    Gr 6
    Gr 7
    Teaching site
    JEMZ+ After school science
    McBride Elementary
    Seymour Elementary
    Tyee Elementary
    Weir Elementary