Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Rock garden

Yesterday we went grocery shopping. Our list included ammonia and bluing. Till yesterday, I had no idea what is bluing, where to find it, and how to use it. Apparently, it is used to "brighten whites", and it is found in the laundry sections of grocery stores. The bottle is, appropriately, blue.

These supplies were requested by 8 yo to grow rock crystal gardens. He took out a book from the library about crystals about a month ago and now finally got around  to it.

When we finished our schoolwork yesterday, we set up the basic solution:
  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 3 tablespoons of bluing

Mix them together, then carefully and slowly add one tablespoon of ammonia.

The resulting solution was more than enough for our three gardens.
1. A few different rocks and pieces of charcoal.
2. Crumpled and shredded paper towels
3. Crumpled aluminum foil and a few toothpicks on top.
Spoon the solution on top, mixing gently. They suggest not pouring it on.
Rock garden, before the solution
rock with the solution
While we saw some crystals form right away, the real beauties awaited us in the morning. I just wish my proteins from grad school crystallized like that!
What's going on:
These are salt crystals. Water is needed to dissolve the salt. Bluing contains powdered fragments which seed the crystals and let them form. These fragments attach to the materials (coal, rocks, paper, etc) and provide scaffolding. Ammonia helps water evaporate faster, so that crystals can grow quicker.
The best part was that this experiment came out of kids' desires, so they were eager to check on it and show it off to my husband.
white crystals
more crystals
As another aside to my science coverage worries, we visited Goodwill this past Friday and walked out with two textbooks. One was World History and another was 4th grade science. 8 yo grabbed onto the science one and browsed it the whole Shabbos. There was a vocabulary preview at the beginning of a unit. I conducted my own experiment and asked him if he knew any of the words. He said that he knew all of them. I asked him about the meaning of mimicry. He immediately gave me the example of a milk snake and coral snake. Same went for the next section, about plant parts. He knew all the words except for one, and did not mind looking through the chapter to find it. I breathed a sigh of relief. Even without formal schooling and memorization, he surely knew the concepts and the vocabulary.

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