On Wednesday 28th October, nine enthusiastic young scientists aged 6 to 10 made their way from the French Section to the Chemistry Lab in the Science Centre. Their mission was to find out about crystals and to try their hand at making some for themselves.
After thinking about where they see crystals in their daily lives, the students were given a tray of apparatus and chemicals to make their own. Their first job was to look at the reagents and hypothesise the colour of the crystals that they were to make.
Presented with green copper (ii) carbonate powder and colourless sulphuric acid the suggestions ranged from green to brown to white. The students were provided with instructions in both English and French. Working in (as far as possible, socially distanced) groups of three, the students added the powder to the acid. They were very excited to see effervescence occuring (effervescence is the technical name for fizzing!). After filtering their mixture they obtained a beautiful blue liquid.
This was copper (ii) sulphate solution. The students heated the solution in an evaporating basin and then poured the remaining liquid into a crystallising dish. They were very excited to see the crystals just starting to grow as it was time to pack up. The students took their crystallising dishes back to the classroom where the blue crystals are already growing bigger.
This was not just an excellent opportunity for some of our youngest students to get experience in the laboratory. It was also an opportunity for the older students to step up and help the younger students in their group, as evidenced by them translating the English and occasionally (very bad) French of the Chemistry teacher into much better French. Global Citizens in the making!