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Molecular Structure Laboratory

2016 Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest


Molecular Structure Laboratory/ 2016 Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest Updated: May 19, 2016

  • Definition
  • Who can participate
  • How to grow crystals
  • Participants
  • Results
  • Awards
  • Publicity
  • Contact
  • Sponsors and contributors

Announcement

The results are in! Check out the results page.

The Molecular Structure Laboratory of the UW-Madison Chemistry Department present the 3rd Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition!

When? March 1 - April 30, 2016.

Who can participate? There will be two contests. One for Wisconsin high school students and the other for Wisconsin middle school students. The rules are the same for both categories. The prizes are the same - one set for the middle school students and another for the high school students. There is no entry fee, this is a free contest.

This is an exciting scientific competition as well as a fun, hands-on experience. All participants are invited to the award ceremony to be held at the UW Chemistry Department on May 20, 2016.

Instructions on how to grow crystals are provided on this site. The objective is to grow the biggest and highest quality single crystal. The contest is described in the Handbook.



One this page: Who can participate | How to sign up for the contest

Who can participate?

High school contest: Wisconsin high school students and home-schooled youths ages 14-18.

Middle school contest: Wisconsin middle school students or home-schooled youths ages 11-13.

Individuals or teams of up to three students. There is no limit on the number of teams per school.

High and middle school science teachers.

The entires will be categorized in six different divisions as described below. Each division will be judged separately.

Division 1: Wisconsin middle school students.

Division 2: Wisconsin home-schooled students ages 11-13.

Division 3: Middle school science teachers. Middle school teacher crystals are judged for overall quality only, separately from the students’ crystals.

Division 4: Wisconsin high school students.

Division 5: Wisconsin home-schooled students ages 14-18.

Division 6: High school science teachers. High school teacher crystals are judged for overall quality only, separately from the students’ crystals.

Entry fee: there is no entry fee, this is a free contest.

 

 

How to sign up for the contest

1. Read the How to Grow Crystals section and decide that you are up to the task.

2. Fill out the official Registration form to inform the organizers that you will participate. There is no entry fee, this is a free contest.

3. Grow crystals. The procedure and contest are described in the Handbook. Obtain the crystallization material as described on the next tab.

4. Fill out the official Crystal/Art Submission Form and mail it along with your crystals and/or artwork to the address below.

 

All requests, questions, and crystals should be sent to

Ilia A. Guzei, Ph.D.
2124 Chemistry Department
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1101 University Ave
Madison, WI  53706, USA
Phone: 608-263-4694
iguzei@chem.wisc.edu (subject line: Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition).

 

 


On this page: Crystallization material, What is a crystal, How to grow crystals, Safety, Handbook

What is the crystallization material and how to get it?

For the 2016 High School competition the crystal growing material is cupric sulfate, CuSO4.5H2O (copper (II) sulfate pentahydrate, or ‘bluestone’). This material is chosen because it produces large beautiful blue crystals, which are neither too easy nor too difficult to grow. Cupric sulfate was also the compound used in the very first X-ray diffraction experiment by Max von Laue in 1912.

Many schools already have sufficient supplies of this inexpensive chemical - ask your teacher.

Copper (II) sulfate can be purchased from Flinn Scientific. Many hardware stores carry cupric sulfate as a common pesticide. The cupric sulfate solubility in water is listed in this table.

* * *

For the 2016 Middle School competition the crystal growing material is potassium aluminum sulfate dodecahydrate, KAl(SO4)2.12H2O (alum). This material is chosen because it produces large beautiful colorless crystals, which are neither too easy nor too difficult to grow.

Many schools already have sufficient supplies of this inexpensive chemical - ask your teacher.

Potassium aluminum sulfate can be purchased from Flinn Scientific, item A0180. Many grocery stores carry alum as a spice. The alum solubility in water is 38.6 g/100mL at 50 °C and 14.0 g/100mL at 20 °C.

* * *

If you have questions about alum or cupric sulfate - feel free to contact the organizers by e-mail.

 

What is a crystal?

A crystal is a solid that consists of various atoms, ions, or molecules arranged in a uniform three-dimensional repeating pattern. This results in the material having a specific shape and color, and having other characteristic properties. Diamond (used in jewelry and cutting tools) is an example of a crystal. It is made of pure carbon. Salt and sugar are also examples of crystals.

Recrystallization is a process that has been used to purify solid material by dissolving the solid (called a solute) in an appropriate liquid (called a solvent) and then having the material precipitate out of solution in crystalline form. Depending upon conditions, one may obtain a mass of many small crystals or one large crystal.

Crystals are characterized by type, shape, form, clarity, and color.

 

How to grow crystals

The crystal growing period is from March 1 to April 30, 2016. The judging will take place on May 12, 2016 by a panel of judges.

RULE 1: The maximum amount of starting material that may be used for each given crystal is limited to 100 g.
RULE 2: So that all
students have an equal preparation time, crystal production must conclude within five weeks after receipt of starting material.

First Stage: Grow a Seed Crystal

Cupric sulfate:

Check out a video by the X-ray Laboratory Teaching Assistant Brian Dolinar about cupric sulfate crystal growing.

You will benefit from watching Award Winning Crysta Growing Videos from the 2014 International Crystal Growing Contest.

Alum:

Check out the three videos by Prof. Jason Benedict (University of Buffalo): introduction, part 1(how to grow a seed crystal), part 2 (how to grow a large crystal).

The idea is to grow a single crystal, not a bunch of crystals. You will first need to grow a small perfect crystal that will become your seed crystal, around which you will later grow a large crystal. It is therefore essential to avoid excessively rapid growth, which encourages the formation of multiple crystals instead of a single crystal.

What You Need

  1. Substance to be crystallized
  2. Distilled or mineralized water
  3. A shallow dish (e.g., Petri)
  4. Heating plate or stove
  5. Fishing line (1 to 2 kg strength)
  6. A small wood rod (e.g., popsicle stick)
  7. A magnifying glass (optional)

Important Things to Know

  1. How much substance you have to work with, which you can determine by weighing it on a balance.
  2. The solubility of the substance in water at room temperature, which you can obtain from a chemistry reference book.
  3. It would also be useful to know the solubility of the substance at elevated temperatures, which is information that may also be available in a reference book such as Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 45th Ed (1964-5).

What to Do

  1. Warm about 50 mL (1/4 cup) of water in a glass container.
  2. Dissolve a quantity of the substance to produce a saturated solution at the elevated temperature.
  3. Pour the warm solution into a shallow dish.
  4. Allow the solution to cool to room temperature.
  5. After a day or so, small crystals should begin to form.
  6. Remove some of the crystals.
  7. With a magnifier select a beautiful and transparent small crystal. This will be your seed crystal.
  8. Tie the seed crystal with the fishing line by using a simple overhand knot.
  9. Suspend the seed crystal in a shallow (1 to 2 mm deep) small volume (about 1 to 2 mL) saturated solution (for example, in a cover or a Petri dish) for some time (1 to 2 days).
  10. Check with the magnifier that the seedling crystal is well-fixed to the line by its beginning growth. This step is very important because one can lose several days of growth if the ‘beginning growth’ is not regular or not along the structure of the seedling crystal. It is worth checking properly before going on with the regular crystal growth.

Second Stage: Grow a Large, Single Crystal

Now you are ready to proceed with the preparation of a large single crystal. Once you have mastered this step, you may be interested in trying to grow single crystals in the presence of introduced ‘impurities" that may give different crystal colors or shapes. In recrystallization, one tries to prepare a solution that is supersaturated with respect to the solute (the material you want to crystallize).

There are several ways to do this. One is to heat the solvent, dissolve as much solute as you can (said to be a "saturated" solution at that temperature), and then let it cool. At this point, all the solute remains in solution, which now contains more solute at that temperature than it normally would (and is said to be "supersaturated"). This situation is somewhat unstable. If you now suspend a solid material in the solution, the "extra" solute will tend to come out of solution and grow around the solid. Particles of dust can cause this to occur. However, this growth will be uncontrolled and should be avoided (thus the recrystallization beaker should be covered). To get controlled growth, a "seed crystal", prepared from the solute should be suspended into the solution. The supersaturation method works when the solute is more soluble in hot solvent than cold. This is usually the case, but there are exceptions. For example, the solubility of table salt (sodium chloride) is about the same whether the water is hot or cold. The rate at which crystallization occurs will affect crystal quality. The more supersaturated a solution is, the faster growth may be. Usually, the best crystals are the ones that grow SLOWLY.

Thus, if you heated the solvent to near the boiling point to get a highly supersaturated solution on cooling back to room temperature, crystals may start to form before the solution had completely cooled. This is where the "art" of science comes into play. One has to experiment a bit to get the right conditions. A second way to get supersaturation is to start with a saturated solution and let the solvent evaporate. This will be a slower process.

The above will apply to most situations. It is necessary to match the proper solvent with a given solute.

WARNING: the solubility of some salts is quite sensitive to temperature, so the temperature of recrystallization should be controlled as best you can. There have been reports in the past of students having a nice big crystal growing in a beaker on a Friday, the room temperature rising in a school over the weekend, and by Monday morning the crystal had totally gone back into solution. Consider insulating your crystallization vessel inside a Styrofoam box.

What You Need

  1. Substance to be crystallized
  2. A seed crystal of the substance to be crystallized on a fishing line
  3. Distilled or demineralized water
  4. A small wood rod or popsicle stick
  5. Thermometer
  6. Balance
  7. Plastic or glass container
  8. Heating plate
  9. Beaker of 2 to 4 liters volume
  10. Thermostated bath (optional)
  11. Slow revolution motor (1 to 4 rotations per day) (optional)

Important Things to Know

  1. How much substance you have to work with, which you can determine by weighing it on a balance
  2. The solubility of the substance in water at room temperature, which you can obtain from a chemistry reference book
  3. It would also be useful to know the solubility of the substance at elevated temperatures, which is information that may also be available in a reference book.

How to Prepare a Supersaturated Solution

To grow your large, single crystal, you will need a supersaturated solution. The amounts of substance and water to be used will depend upon the solubility at room and elevated temperatures. You may have to determine the proper proportions by trial and error (just like the first scientists did).

Method One

  1. Place about double the amount of substance that would normally dissolve in a certain volume of water at room temperature into that volume of water. (e.g. if 30 g (about 1 oz) of X dissolves in 100 g (mL) of water at room temperature, place 60 g of X in 100 mL of water.) Adjust the proportions depending upon how much material you have. Use clean glassware.
  2. Stir the mixture until it appears that no more will go into solution.
  3. Continue stirring the mixture while gently warming the solution.
  4. Once all of the substance has gone into solution, remove the container from the heat.
  5. Allow the solution to cool to room temperature.
  6. You now have a supersaturated solution.

Method Two

  1. Select an appropriate volume of water.
  2. Warm this water to about 15-s20 deg above room temperature.
  3. Add some of your substance to the warm water and stir the mixture to dissolve completely.
  4. Continue adding substance and stirring until there is a little material that won’t dissolve.
  5. Warm the mixture a bit more until the remaining material goes into solution.
  6. Once all of the substance has gone into solution, remove the container from the heat.
  7. Allow the solution to cool to room temperature.
  8. You now have a supersaturated solution.

Now you can grow your wonderful crystal!

Since the solubility of a substance varies a lot with temperature, it is very important to control the temperature carefully. If the room temperature is stable then you might be able to leave your apparatus out in the open. If it can vary by even only a degree or two, then it may be necessary to place the apparatus into a thermostated bath set to a few degrees above room temperature (if available, but this is not mandatory). You could also place the growing apparatus inside a Styrofoam or picnic cooler.

Also, for the seed crystal to grow, it is absolutely necessary that the solution never be unsaturated at the temperature of the experiment (usually the room temperature).

Getting Started

  1. Carefully suspend your seed crystal from the stick into the supersaturated solution, being careful not to let the crystal touch the bottom of the container.
  2. Cover the container in which the crystal is growing. This is to:
    • keep out dust, and
    • reduce temperature fluctuations.
    This can be done with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. If you want to allow the solvent (typically water) to evaporate (see step #4b below), then use porous paper (e.g., filter paper or coffee filter).
  3. Observe the crystal growth. Depending upon the substance, the degree of supersaturation and the temperature, this may take several days before the growth slows down and stops. A couple of different things can happen at this stage. The questions and answers below can help you.
    • Why does the crystal stop growing?
      A crystal will only grow when the surrounding solution is supersaturated with solute. When the solution is exactly saturated, no more material will be deposited on the crystal. (This may not be entirely true. Some may be deposited, however an equal amount will leave the crystal surface to go back into solution. We call this an equilibrium condition.)
    • Why did my crystal shrink/disappear?
      If your crystal shrank or disappeared, it was because the surrounding solution became unsaturated and the crystal material went back into solution. Unsaturation may occur when the temperature of a saturated solution increases, even by only a few degrees, depending upon the solute. (This is why temperature control is so important.)
    • How do I get crystal growth restarted?
      Step 4 below will give you the details.
  4. Resupersaturate the solution. This may need to be done on a daily basis, especially when the crystal gets larger. But first, remove the crystal.
    a) One way to resupersaturate the solution is to reduce the amount of solvent. This may be done by heating the solution for a while and then cool it to the original temperature. b) Alternatively, you can just let the solvent evaporate from the solution; this may be a slow process, but has the advantage of getting a better quality crystal. c) One can also supersaturate the solution by warming it somewhat, then adding and dissolving more solute, and finally cooling it.
  5. Each time the solution is saturated, it is a good idea to ‘clean’ the monocrystal surface, by
    • making sure the crystal is dry.
    • not touching the crystal with your fingers (hold only by the suspending line if possible).
    • removing any ‘bumps’ on the surface due to extra growth.
    • removing any small crystals from the line.
    It is a good habit to clean your hands after each manipulation.
  6. Resuspend the crystal back into the newly supersaturated solution.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 as needed.
  8. To get improved symmetry and size, slowly rotate the growing monocrystal (1 to 4 rotations per day). An electric motor with 1 to 4 daily rotations might be difficult to find (consider one from an old humidity drum-register or other apparatus). This option becomes useful only when a monocrystal gets rather big.

Safety


Copper (II) sulfate pentahydrate is relatively safe, but the usual safety precautions should be exercised. Gloves and goggles are recommended.

The Cupric Sulfate Material Safety Data Sheet is available at the Flinn Scientific or Sigma Aldrich web site.

Potassium aluminum sulfate dodecahydrate is relatively safe but the usual safety precautions should be exercised. Gloves and goggles are recommended.

The Alum Material Safety Data Sheet is available at the Flinn Scientific or Sigma Aldrich web site.

 

2016 Participants

As of March 21, 2016. There are ~610 participants in 272 teams. There are 63 one-person, 64 two-person, and 145 three-person teams.

2016 High school participants as of March 21, 2016. Students from highlighted schools participated in 2015. Click on any map to expand it.

1. Berlin High School, Berlin.
2. Hartford Union High School, Hartford.
3. MG21 Liberal Arts Charter School, Monona.
4. Prairie Phoenix Academy, Sun Prairie.
5. New Berlin Eisenhower Middle/High School, New Berlin.
6. Phelps School, Phelps.
7. Burlington High School, Burlington.
8. Waupaca High School, Waupaca.
9. Plymouth High School, Plymouth.
10. Arcadia High School, Arcadia.
11. Montello High School, Montello.
12. Evansville High School, Evansville.
13. Faith Learning Academy (Homeschool), Kenosha.
14. Jerome I. Case High School, Racine.
15. Westosha Central High School, Salem.
16. Homeschooled, Madison.
17. James Madison Memorial High School, Madison.
18. Edgewood High School of Sacred Heart, Madison.
19. Glacier Creek Middle School, Cross Plains.
20. Oshkosh North High School, Oshkosh.
21. Blair-Taylor High School, Blair.
22. Reedsville High School, Reedsville.
23. Juda School, Juda.

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Middle school participants as of March 21, 2016.

1. Berlin Middle School, Berllin.
2. Whitehall Memorial Schools, Whitehall.
3. Faith Learning Academy (Homeschool), Kenosha.
4. Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Monona.
5. Waunakee Middle School, Waunakee.
6. Leonardo da Vinci School for Gifted learners, Green Bay.
7. Horace Mann Middle School, Neenah.
8. Shattuck Middle School, Neenah.
9. St. Joseph Catholic School, Stratford.
10. John Long Middle School, Grafton.
11. Blair-Taylor Middle School, Blair.
12. Central Middle School, Hartford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2015 Participants

This is a map for participants in the 2015 contest.

The following 26 schools (~500 students) have signed up as of April 28, 2015. 2015

Students from highlighted schools participated in 2014.

1A. Frederic High School, Frederic, WI.
2B. Beaver Dam High School, Beaver Dam, WI. ~75 students.
3C. Elkhorn Area High School, Elkhorn, WI.
4D. Ashwaubenon High School, Green Bay, WI. ~ 11 students.
5E. J.I. Case High School, Racine, WI. ~170 students.
6F. Westosha Central High School, Twin Lakes, WI. ~25 students.
7G. Berlin High School, Berlin, WI. Several teams.
8H. Hartford Union High School, Hartford, WI. ~100 students.
9I. FJ Turner High School, Beloit, WI.
10J. Montello High School, Montello, WI. ~25 students.
11K. Waupaca High School, Waupaca, WI. 4 students.
12L. D.C. Everest Senior High, Weston WI. 1 student.
13M. Oshkosh North High School, Oshkosh, WI. 2 students.
14N. James Madison Memorial High School, Madison, WI. 1 student.
15O. East Troy High School, East Troy, WI. 1 student.
16P. Milton High School, Milton, WI. 2 students.
17Q. Menomonee Falls High School, Menomonee Falls, WI.
18R. Union Grove High School, Union Grove, WI.
19S. James Madison Memorial High School, Madison, WI. 4 students.
20T. Waterford Union High School, Waterford, WI. ~20 students.
21U. Edgerton High School, Edgerton, WI.
22V. Verona Area High School, Verona, WI. ~4 students.
23W. Cedarburg High School, Cedarburg, WI. ~10 students.
24X. Blair-Taylor High School, Blair, WI. ~25 students.
25Y. Fond du Lac High School, Fond du Lac, WI. 2 students.



International participants:
+1. Lyceum №1575, Moscow, Russia. 40 students.

Click on the map to explore it.

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2014 Participants

This is a map for participants in the 2014 contest.

As of March 19, 2014 the following 26 Wisconsin schools have entered the contest. Explore the map by clicking on it. Students from highlighted schools won prizes in 2014.

1. Montello Junior/Senior High. map
2. Nekoosa High School.
3. Flambeau High School, Tony.
4. Westosha Central High School. Salem.
5. D.C.Everest High School. Weston.
6. Omro High School.
7. Laona High School.
8. Weyauwega-Fremont High School, Weyauwega.
9. Blair-Taylor High School, Blair.
10. Waterford Union High School.
11. Berlin High School.
12. Middleton High School.
13. Hortonville High School.
14. Marshall High School.
15. Clinton High School.
16. Oshkosh North High School.
17. Fort Atkinson High School.
18. Ashwaubenon High School.
19. McFarland High School.
20. Edgerton High School.
21. Case High School, Racine.
22. Bay Port High School, Green Bay.
23. Hartford Union High School.
24. FJ Turner High School.
25. Sun Prairie High School.
26. Seymour Community High School.
27. Verona Area High School.
28. Madison West High School.


On this page: How the crystals are judged, Results, Meet the Judges, Winning crystals, Crystal-inspired art

How Are the Crystals Judged?

Each school is encouraged to submit one crystal for best quality and one for best overall. It is recognized that several crystals from a school may be of roughly equivalent overall quality. If this is the case each school may submit several crystals.

Judging Criteria

One single crystal will be judged only on the basis of quality as outlined below. The other single crystal will be judged on the basis of combining mass and quality factors as outlined below.

The quality is judged by experts who will rank the crystals on a scale of 0 to 10. A score of 10 will be given to a perfect gem-quality crystal that fits the ideal crystal structure known for the chemical.

1. The crystal is weighed, and the mass Mo recorded. The crystal must be a minimum of 0.5 g to be eligible for judging.

2. The quality of the crystal is judged on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing a perfect crystal.

The following factors will be considered in judging quality:

  • match/mismatch with crystal type (out of 2)
  • presence/absence of occlusions (out of 2)
  • intact/broken edges (out of 2)
  • well formed/misformed faces (out of 2)
  • clarity/muddiness (out of 2)

Total Observed Quality Qo = x.xx (out of 10)

3. The Total Score is then determined as follows:
Total Score = [log (Mo+1)] x Qo

The logarithm of the mass is chosen so that large poor quality crystals don’t swamp out smaller good quality crystals. The value 1 is added to the mass so that crystals weighing less than 1 g get a positive score.

A 100 per cent yield crystal made from 100 g (Mt) that scores a perfect 10 on quality (Qt) would get a theoretical maximum of:
[log (100+1)] x 10 = 20.01

The actual score is expressed as a percentage of the maximum. The crystal with the highest Overall Score is the winning crystal.
100 x {[log (Mo+1)] x Qo} / {[log (Mt+1)] x Qt} = Overall Score %

For example, the best overall crystal in the 2001 contest with 150 g starting material weighed 46.53 g and had a quality of 8.65. Its overall score was:
100 x {[log (46.53+1)] x 8.65} / {[log (150+1)] x 10} = 66.6%

This score is nearly an absolute score that could be used to judge different types of crystals grown from differing amounts of starting material.

 

2016 Crystal Growing Contest Results (middle and high school)

Middle schools (ages 11-13)

Best overall crystal: 
1st prize:     Brittany Kaatz, Brielle Behnke, Enrique Botello, Berlin MS, Berlin
2nd prize:   Nikki Messick, Shattuck MS, Neenah
3rd prize:    Abbi Jacobson, Reese Gilbertson, Sami Huff, Whitehall Memorial Schools, Whitehall

Best quality crystal:
Kameron Hughes, John Long MS, Grafton

Best teacher's crystal:
Lisa Bowler, John Long MS, Grafton

Contest-inspired art: 
1st prize:    Mia Egan-Alvarado, Central MS, Hartford
2nd prize:   Nikki Messick, Shattuck MS, Neenah
3rd prize:    Miranda Schneider, St. Joseph Catholic School, Stratford

High school (ages 14-18)

Best overall crystal: 
1st prize:     Kevin Kollmann, Fond du Lac HS, Fond du Lac
2nd prize:   Brandon Rakestraw, Matthew Amundson, Blair-Taylor HS, Blair
3rd prize:    Youhe Gao, Barbara Hanna, Yunyao Zhu, Edgewood HS of the Sacred Heart, Madison

Best quality crystal:
Allison Kaelin, Oshkosh HS, Oshkosh

Highest aesthetic value crystal:
Olivia Burkholz, Andrea O'Bryon, Kylee Anderson, Hartford Union HS, Hartford

Best teacher's crystal:
Jim Prosser, Fond du Lac HS, Fond du Lac

Contest-inspired art: 
1st prize:    Aliyah John, Homeschooled, Kenosha
2nd prize:   Skylar Rodenbeck, Trenton Miller, Matthew Jones, Shawano HS, Shawano

Meet the Judges

A panel of 11 judges, chemists, crystallographers, and museum curators selects the winners in all categories.

Dr. Galina Bikzhanova (Covance, Madison)
Dr. Matt Bowman (American Chemical Society, WI section, Madison)
Ms. Sue Byram (Bruker AXS, Madison)
Dr. Lee Daniels (Rigaku Oxford Diffraction, Woodlands, TX)
Mr. Tim Dreyer (Madison Children’s Museum, Madison)
Dr. Jim Fettinger (UC-Davis, Davis, CA)
Dr. Dan Frankel (Bruker AXS, Madison)
Dr. Ilia Guzei (American Crystallographic Association, Madison, not shown)
Dr. Paula Piccoli (Pharmaceutical Product Development, Madison)
Dr. Nathan Reynolds (MilliporeSigma, Madison)
Ms. Anastasiya Vinokur (UW-Madison, Madison)

 

Winning crystals from 2016

Middle school

1st place - Best overall

Brittany Kaatz, Brielle Behnke, Enrique Botello, Berlin MS, Berlin

Middle school

2nd place - Best overall

Nikki Messick, Shattuck MS, Neenah

Middle school

3rd place - Best overall

Abbi Jacobson, Reese Gilbertson, Sami Huff, Whitehall Memorial Schools, Whitehall

Middle school

Best quality - top prize

Kameron Hughes, John Long MS, Grafton

Middle school

Teacher's crystal - best oveall

Lisa Bowler, John Long MS, Grafton

High school

1st place - Best overall

Kevin Kollmann, Fond du Lac HS, Fond du Lac

High school

2nd place - Best overall

Brandon Rakestraw, Matthew Amundson, Blair-Taylor HS, Blair

High school

3rd place - Best overall

Youhe Gao, Barbara Hanna, Yunyao Zhu, Edgewood HS of the Sacred Heart, Madison

High school

1st place - Best quality

Allison Kaelin, Oshkosh HS, Oshkosh

High school

1st place - Highest aesthetic value

Olivia Burkholz, Andrea O'Bryon, Kylee Anderson, Hartford Union HS, Hartford

High school

1st place - Teacher's crystal - Best overall

Jim Prosser, Fond du Lac HS, Fond du Lac

 

 

Crystal-inspired art

 

The best crystal-inspired artwork from 2016.

Aliyah John, age 15. Homeschooled in Kenosha.

"Sunken treasure". 3-Dimensional Art showing how crystals can be grown as art.

 

 


On this page: Wisconsin prizes, Award ceremony

Wisconsin prizes

There are two sets of identical prizes - one set for the middle school students and another for the high school students.

crystal_displayMiddle schools:

The crystals will be judged in three categories:

1. Best Overall Crystal – 1st prize ($200), 2nd prize ($100), 3rd prize ($50)
2. Best Quality Crystal – 1st prize ($200)
3. Best Teacher’s Crystal – 1st prize ($100)

A separate category with its own prizes is Crystal-inspired art (details on the "Crystal art judging" tab) - 1st prize ($100), 2nd prize ($50) and 3rd prize ($50).

High schools:

The crystals will be judged in three categories:

1. Best Overall Crystal – 1st prize ($200), 2nd prize ($100), 3rd prize ($50)
2. Best Quality Crystal – 1st prize ($200)
3. Best Teacher’s Crystal – 1st prize ($100)

A separate category with its own prizes is Crystal-inspired art (details on the "Crystal art judging" tab) - 1st prize ($100), 2nd prize ($50) and 3rd prize ($50).

The following applies to all participants:

Students will win cash awards and will receive books and individual certificates as personal prizes.

All participants will be invited to a reception at University of Wisconsin-Madison and to receive prizes on May 20, 2016.

In addition, the best crystals will become part of a permanent display at the Molecular Structure Laboratory at UW-Madison.

The crystal growing period is from March 1 to April 30, 2016. The judging will take place on May 12, 2016 by a panel of 11 judges.

Award Ceremony

The big day is May 20, 2016. There will be tours of the Geology Museum and UW-Madison Campus.
All activities (with a map, locations, and driving instructions) are described in this file.

The Award Ceremony will take place in the Chemistry Department at 2:00 pm on May 20, 2016.

The results of the 3rd state-wide Crystal Growing Contest among middle and high school students will be announced at the ceremony. 

1. Introduction
Dr. Ilia Guzei, Director of Crystallography.

2. Welcome and Department Overview
Prof. Robert J. McMahon, Helfaer Professor and Chair

3. Undergraduate Education at UW–Madison Chemistry Department
Prof. John Moore, the W.T. Lippincott Professor of Chemistry

4. Growing Crystals with Super-Saturated Sodium Acetate Solution
Lucas Oxtoby, SPICE (Students Participating In Chemical Education)

5. The 2016 Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest details
Dr. Paula Piccoli, PPD Inc. (Pharmaceutical Product Development, Madison, WI)

6. Presentations of the Awards
Dr. Ilia Guzei

7. Celebratory reception (3:30 PM)
in the atrium of the Shain Tower

8. Chemistry building tours (~3:45–4:00 pm)

For the department location and nearby parking see the campus map.

 


On this page: Publications, T-shirts, Testimonials, Crystal growing contest and previous events

Publications

JChemEdCove The Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest has been featured on the cover of the Journal of Chemical Education and the featured article (Guzei I.A. "Celebrating the International Year of Crystallography with a Wisconsin High School Crystal Growing Competition") described the scientific impact the contest made at the participating schools - check out the Testimonial page!

 

Learn more about the contest at the 2016 Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers Conference in La Crosse on April 21-23, 2016. Stop by to admire contest crystals, discuss your projects, and meet Dr. Guzei and Dr. Bowman at our booth!

 

Celebrate the 2016 Crystal Growing Contest by wearting a T-shirt !

The front and back designs are shown below. Two colors are available: Dark heather and Antique Irish Green.
These high quality cotton shirts are available in four sizes: S, M, L, and XL for just $10 (shipping included). To order send an e-mail to the address in the Contact tab. Checks should be made out to the UW Chemistry Department. The shirts looks better in person. They wash well.

 

 

Check out last year shirts: Nekoosa High School Students from the 2014 Contest are shown below!!

2014 and 2015 Testimonials Demonstrate Educational Impact

From the 2014 WI Crystal Growing Contest

In the article by Guzei I.A. ("Celebrating the International Year of Crystallography with a Wisconsin High School Crystal Growing Competition") several science teacher share their impressions of the 2014 WI Crystal Growing Contest. Here is an exerpt from the article:

The student response to the invitation to participate in the contest was quite enthusiastic. The teachers recognized the complementary nature of the contest to their courses and used the event to enhance student learning about compound solubility and concentration, purification, crystallization conditions, good laboratory practices, and discipline. The teachers’ comments speak for themselves:

The activity was a great way to reinforce our solution unit in chemistry. Students were able to see the effects of an unsaturated solution, saturated solution and supersaturated solution. Students adopted the advanced vocabulary and even took it upon themselves to research what a “perfect crystal” might look like. It was a great cross-curriculum assignment as we investigated the types of crystals produced using the earth science teacher as our resource. Before the start of class each day, students would attend to their crystals and would even help others with the growing process. They learned quickly what worked well and also learned how to fail. This activity brought out “true learning” in the classroom. I did not assign a grade to this assignment (but we did have a friendly competition) and these students owned the project as though it was a final exam grade. Students who are not always engaged in class quickly excelled with this project offering their own special skillset to their groups. Many students chose to name their crystals: Jessie White, Dusty, Adidas, DuWayne the Rock Crystal, DuWayne II, and Lapis Lazuli (blue block from Minecraft game.) As the June 1st deadline approached the biggest question was “Will my crystal go to Madison?” I wanted to show off all of the crystals so I am creating a display case with a few art students to have in my classroom. Next year I am going to incorporate this contest again in my own classroom. [Jamie Lauer, chemistry teacher, Hartford Union High School, Hartford, WI]

I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to enter my students into the crystal growing contest. It is so fun to see them excited about chemistry! In fact, I have had kids coming in after school and in between classes to check on their crystals. I’m pretty sure I have not had this many kids in my room on a Friday after school in a long time. [Lynn Dehnel, science teacher, Ashwaubenon High School, Ashwaubenon, WI]

We had a unique group of kids this year who really enjoyed the project. They, too, arrived early or checked in between classes to monitor the process. Some also named their crystals. A young lady wanted to make a necklace out of her crystal - it looked so attractive to her. Unfortunately, I did not capture photos of any of this but their engagement levels in this far exceeded my expectations. Because of their interest, we were able to examine X-ray crystallography (I had some slides for projection demos from Madison several years ago), the Bragg equation, colligative properties and other topics that we would not do at such depth in other years. [Ron Cerveny, science teacher, Flambeau High School, Tony, WI]

It was a great opportunity for both of my girls that worked on the crystals. They learned how to work together and share the responsibility of lab work because they worked on the same crystals consecutive hours of the day. They had to leave detailed instructions for each other and understood the importance of meticulous records. They also had to discuss variations in procedures to improve the crystals, making this realistic research work. They enjoyed this experience very much. [Lynn Ponto, science teacher, Weyauwega-Fremont High School, Weyauwega, WI]

Many students named their teams creatively: for example, “In the woods”, “Anti-derivatives”, “Hero batman”, Qual, “Heisenberg’s crystal”, and “The shockers” (probably not the best name for a crystal growing experiment)."

From the 2015 WI Crystal Growing Contest

..This is way cooler than I thought... Thank you so much again for organizing this event. I think the crystal growing competition is a good opportunity to introduce students to work in the laboratory. Aqueous solutions of copper sulfate are pretty safe to work with and the crystallization conditions allow enough permutations to provide a challenge to the students to find appropriate conditions for growing seed crystals and competition crystals. The students were intrigued by the intense color of the solution alone and literally blown away by the beauty and size of the crystals. We luckily had enough material that they even ventured into growing little crystal gardens. The students had fun, learned to work accurately and cleanly and follow instructions. They learned from their mistakes making adjustments to improve results. They learned to relate results to crystallization conditions and modify conditions to improve results. My favorite quote: "This is way cooler than I thought!" All of them were looking forward going into the 2016 competition with so much more experience. [Dr. Michael Ruf, coach of a student team, Verona, Wisconsin].

I'd also like to thank you for again hosting the Crystal Growing Competition. I also organize a major academic competition and I know how time-consuming it can be, but it is also very rewarding. I want you to know that all of my students gave this competition two thumbs up and they very much enjoyed their visit to UW. Several students commented that they would have liked to stay overnight and take more tours. I am hoping that this competition continues to be an annual event and you continue to have the awards before summer as it easier to get the kids there. [Tim Cox, Berlin High School Chemistry, Wisconsin].

At DC Everest High School, I run the crystal growing competition as an afterschool enrichment activity. This year is the second year we have participated in your contest. The students and I think it is great. Students love the intra-school competition. The students that participate are highly motivated students, and love a challenge. Thank you for running this statewide competition. It is a great learning activity for our students. The documentation you provided for instructions for the contest are very clear and user friendly. I do not have any suggestions for changes other than to please include us again. Thank you for providing us with this opportunity. [Ann Wiernik Chemistry Teacher DC Everest Senior High School]

I just wanted to tell you that I had a lot of fun doing the Crystal Growing Contest. It was a highly rewarding experience because I was able to create my own experiment within the experiment. It was hands-on and watching the crystals grow under different conditions was very interesting. In my opinion, any chance to learn and have fun while doing one is an opportunity that should not be passed up. Thank you for organizing this. [Abby Schuett, high school student from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin].

International, National, State and previous events

2015 International Crystal Growing Contest

2015 Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest

2015 US National Crystal Growing Contest

2014 Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest

2014 International Crystal Growing Contest conducted by the International Union of Crystallography.

The American Crystallographic Association will conduct the first National crystal growing competition in 2014.

 

Contacts

All questions should be addressed either to one of the orgranizers:

Ilia A. Guzei, Ph.D.
Director of Crystallography
2124 Chemistry Department
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1101 University Ave
Madison, WI  53706, USA
Phone: 608-263-4694
iguzei@chem.wisc.edu (subject line: Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition).

Matt Bowman Matt Bowman, Ph.D.
Lecturer
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1101 University Ave
Madison, WI  53706, USA
Phone: 608-262-2519
bowman@chem.wisc.edu (subject line: Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition).

 

 

 

Sponsors and individual contributors

Many thanks go to our generous sponsors without whom this competition would not be possible. Click on the images to visit the sponsors' web pages.

 

 

 

ACS (Wisconsin section)

 

Evjue

 

 

SAFC

 

 

Rigaku

 

 

Hestia_Labs

 

 

 

 

We gladly acknowledge our enthusiastic contributors

Rachel Bain (Chemistry Department, organization)
Jason Benedict (SUNY at Buffalo, organization)
Brian Dolinar (Chemistry Department, crystal growth)
Dan Frankel (personal donation)

Dr. Ilia Guzei is grateful to his Canadian and Australian colleagues for sharing their expertise and contest-related materials.




Copyright © 2015 Molecular Structure Laboratory.