Crystal Leaves are Falling!
Fall is the season where we not only observe cooler temperatures but we also see the leaves on trees change into their fall colors. In this experiment, we will use fall leaves to help us learn about supersaturated solutions and how a crystal is formed. You will also learn that a crystal is made up of molecules that will form a specific pattern if properly grown.
- Table Salt – you will use a lot
- Construction paper
- Plate or Cookie Tray
- Magnifying glass
- Cut out leaf shapes from the construction paper. For a template you can use a cookie cutter, freehand design or trace leaves you can find outside. [To turn them into ornaments just punch a hole into the tip and then use string or ribbon to hang them up.]
- Boil 1 cup of water and add enough salt to over-saturate the mixture. Stop adding salt when crystals start forming on the surface of the water.
- Place the cut-out leaves on a plate or tray and leave space between each one. Before adding the salt/water solution place the plate somewhere quiet so it won’t be in the way as the crystals are forming.
- Pour the salt water solution over the leaves. Let your salt crystal leaves sit until the water evaporates. Check the leaves periodically to watch as the crystals grow.
- Dry the leaves completely on paper towels if necessary. Use the magnifying glass to see what the crystals look like!
Making crystals is fun. You have observed how the boiling water initially dissolved the salt. Then you observed a supersaturated solution. This is a mixture that can’t hold any more particles. The boiling water cannot dissolve any more of the salt and the rest is left behind. Finally, you watched as the water evaporated that the salt crystals formed as the water dissolved and the crystals connected with each other.