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Kids, adults invited to take part in CU Crystal Growing Competition

February 17, 2020

Clarion University Department of Chemistry, Math, and Physics invites children and adults in the community to take part in the 2020 Crystal Growing Competition.

"We aim to introduce students and chemistry enthusiasts to the exciting world of crystallization," said Dr. Jacqueline Knaust, professor of chemistry, who organized the competition. "The study of crystals is very important in the field of chemistry, because it helps scientists understand how atoms and molecules interact."

For the competition, participants provide their own materials to create entries for the Single Crystal Category or the Cool Crystal Formation Category, or both. Only approved compounds may be used. Upon request, teachers can obtain sample materials to use with their students.

The competition is divided into age groups: Kindergarten through grade four; grades five through eight; and high school students to adults. The top three finishers in each age group will receive Visa gift cards. Prizes are $75 for first, $50 for second and $25 for third.

Crystals must be submitted to Clarion University by April 15 and will be displayed at the April 17 university research symposium on campus. There is no cost for participation.

Participants are invited to attend one of the Crystals at Clarion events. Participants may choose the 9 to 10:30 a.m. session or the 1 to 2:30 p.m. session, Feb. 29 or March 21. At these events, participants will engage with chemistry professors and students to learn about and grow a cool crystal formation, which they then can enter in the judged competition. Space is limited; advance registration is required.

Last year, 234 individuals grew and submitted crystals.

"There is beauty in science, and there is science all around us even if we don't notice it," Knaust said. "For example, the ice cubes floating in iced tea are large crystals of frozen water, and the sugar added to sweeten the tea is tiny crystals of sucrose."

For information or to register for the on-campus events, visit

Last Updated 1/11/21