Monday, January 23, 2017

Easy Science - Exploring Sugar Crystals

My Favorite science experiments are often the simplest, like the opportunity to get a close look at sugar crystals.  These easy experiments are a first opportunity to ask questions and try new things with materials that are familiar and safe.

Sugar offers a couple of opportunities.  The first being the chance to explore crystals.  If you place a small amount of sugar on top of a dark piece of construction paper or cardstock, it is easy to see each individual crystal with your bare eyes.  This is also a great time to practice using a magnifying glass to get a better look.

Some things that you can ask the children while they're looking at the crystals;

  • What shapes do you see?
  • What colors are the crystals?
  • Are all of the crystals the same size?
  • Can you find one that is bigger than the others?
  • Do they look different when you pile them up?
The other interesting property of sugar is that it dissolves when it gets wet.  After you've taken some time to look at the crystals, give the children eye droppers and small bowls of water and ask them what will happen when the sugar gets wet. 

Some things that you might want to point out as the children are exploring:
  • What happens to the crystals?
  • Watch the sugar slowly dissolve and move through the sugar.
  • Look how the color of the sugar changes when it gets wet.
  • What does the sugar feel like when it's dry? What about when it's wet?
If you're feeling really brave then you can add some food coloring or colored water. See if the food coloring reacts differently to the wet sugar than it does to the dry sugar.  

Here are some photos that are similar to what you can expect from your own investigations:

 
As you're working on these very simple experiments, make sure that you write down the questions that they are asking and the things that they notice.  These notes will help you understand what the children want to learn more about - and what they already know!

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