Fun with Less Kilowatts: The Crystal Snowflake Experiment

By Brooke Drake, November 16, 2016, Family

Welcome to Fun with Less Kilowatts! We believe that science experiments at home can be a creative way to engage kids in learning while having fun. They can be educational AND great activities to keep your kids busy and away from the television. Each month, we’ll feature a new science experiment that can be a great resource for parents and teachers.

The Crystal Snowflake Experiment

Living in Texas, we rarely see snow. In fact, we often experience 80 degree days in November – even is abnormal even for us. This year, we decided to take matters into our own hands by making our own cold weather cheer with this crystal snowflake experiment. We had so much fun that we wanted to show you how to make your own DIY winter!

The MaterialsFun with Less Kilowatts: The Crystal Snowflake Experiment | Bounce Energy Blog

  • White pipe cleaner
  • String
  • Wide mouth jar (one safe for boiling water)
  • Borax
  • Pencil/small wooden rod
  • Boiling water
  • Scissors
  • Blue food coloring (optional)

The Directions

Fun with Less Kilowatts: The Crystal Snowflake Experiment | Bounce Energy Blog

1) Cut a pipe cleaner into three equal parts, and twist them together in their middles to form a six-pointed star.

2) Make sure the “star” can fit inside the opening of the jar. If not, cut the tips till the star fits easily into the jar. If the pipe cleaners touch the jar in any way it will prevent crystals from growing.

3) Cut a piece of string long enough to hang the pipe cleaner down into the jar without it touching the bottom. Tie one side of the string to the middle of the snowflake, and the other side of the string around the pencil.

4) Lay the pencil across the opening of the jar and lower the snowflake into the jar. Be sure the snowflake hangs low enough without touching the bottom of jar.

5) Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the pencil and snowflake from the jar, and add the hot water to the jar one cup at a time.

6) Add 3 tablespoons of borax per each cup of water inside the jar. Stir the water until the borax dissolves.

Fun with Less Kilowatts: The Crystal Snowflake Experiment | Bounce Energy Blog

7) If you want to add color to their snowflake, drop in the food coloring now. Err on the side of more, rather than fewer drops for a better chance of coloring the crystals.

8) Lower the snowflake into the hot water. Position it so none of the points touch the jar.

9) Let your star sit in the water overnight. The next day, when you pull it out, you should see a pretty crystal snowflake.

The ResultFun with Less Kilowatts: The Crystal Snowflake Experiment | Bounce Energy Blog

Our snowflake worked beautifully! It was a hit with my daughter and her friends!

The Science

Borax is a natural mineral usually  found in laundry detergents, some hand soaps, and even some toothpastes.While borax has many household uses, it’s used in this experiment because of its ability to create a suspension – “a mixture that contains solid particles large enough to settle out but almost too tiny to see.”

To put it into terms kids can understand, when borax is mixed with room temperature water, the water just turns murky. But when you mix it with hot water, the hot water holds more of the dissolved borax, and as the water cools, more of the borax can bond with the pipe cleaners, the string, and the jar to form crystals thus making a pretty crystal snowflake.

Click here for a more in-depth scientific explanation.

Do you have any fun and kid-friendly science experiments you’d like to see us try for Fun with Less Kilowatts? Share with us in the comments!

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