October is here, which means falling leaves, cooler temperatures and of course, pumpkins. Try out this fun experiment to grow your very own crystals in the shape of pumpkins while learning about saturated solutions. For the younger crowd, this activity pairs well with the book “5 Little Pumpkins”.
- 5 Orange chenille stems
- 5 Green and brown chenille stems
- Borax powder
- Spoon and Tablespoon
- Pencil or Skewers
- Glass Jars (Wide mouth Mason Jars work well)
- Measuring Cups
- Paper Towel
- Start by twisting 5 orange chenille stems into abstract pumpkin shapes. Squish them into shape until you’re satisfied with the shape of your chenille pumpkin.
- Add a long chenille stem in green or brown (or both!) to create a stem for the pumpkins. This stem will also act as a way to suspend the pumpkins in the solution.
- Wrap the stems around a pencil or skewer.
- Mix up the solution. Work with an adult to heat 4 cups of water on the stove. Remove from the heat and add in 12 tablespoons of Borax powder. The solution should be cloudy. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands if Borax touches your skin or use gloves.
- Split the solution between as many jars as needed.
- Place the pencil or skewer across the jar to suspend the dangling chenille pumpkin into the solution.
- Let the pumpkins rest in the solution without touching them for 24 hours to observe the changes taking place.
- Remove from the solution after 24 hours and let dry on a paper towel.
Wow! The pumpkin chenille developed crystals!
What you’ve created by mixing the water with Borax is called a saturated solution. A hot liquid will hold more Borax than a cold one. As the solution cools, the molecules in the water move closer to one another and the particles settle out. Settling particles form the crystals. Depending on how long it takes the solutions to cool will determine how the crystals look at the end.
You can expand on this experiment in a few ways. Try covering one of the solution mixtures with aluminum foil to monitor how long it takes the crystals to form. Do they look different than the pumpkins in the uncovered solution? Alternatively, Place one jar of pumpkins in the solution in the fridge, and keep the other at room temperature. What happens after 24 hours? How do the crystals look different?