Senior School students compete in the National Crystal Growing Competition

Between October 8 and November 15th, the chemistry lab was buzzing after school as Gr. 11 and 12 chemistry students tried their luck at growing crystals. Each year, the Chemical Institute of Canada runs the National Crystal Growing Competition, where highschool students compete to earn the title of "Best Quality Crystal" or "Best Overall Crystal" and cash prizes. The quality of a crystal is determined by many factors including clarity, edge definition, absence of occlusions, and face formation. The "Best Overall Crystal" category takes into account both the quality and the size of the crystal produced.

For this year's competition, crystals were grown from alum (potassium aluminum sulfate). Creating large and high-quality crystals is time intensive, and students become proficient at many laboratory skills in the process! The first step is to grow a seed crystal from a supersaturated solution of alum. The quality of the seed crystal is very important, as it is the template on which the larger crystal will be grown. The seed crystal is then suspended in a saturated alum solution, which evaporates over a number of days causing alum to slowly deposit onto the surface of the seed crystal in a very organized way. Generally, the slower the crystal grows, the higher the quality will be, which is why the competition is run over a 5-week period.

This year, Elmwood's best crystals were created by Meredith Denison (2.85 grams) and Zahra Robertson (1.74 grams). These high-quality crystals will be submitted to the national competition for judging along with crystals from other high schools across Canada. Ms. Howell also grew a crystal for the teacher competition, weighing in at 4.17 grams. We wish these crystals the best of luck at the next stage of the competition! Congratulations to all of the members of the Crystal Growing Club!