High school and middle school students crystallize science

February 3, 2017 By Libby Dowdall
Photo: Bluestone crystal next to a penny for reference

This bluestone, grown by Allison Kaelin of Oshkosh High School, received the high school best-quality award in the 2016 crystal growing competition. Ilia Guzei

Organized by the Molecular Structure Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Chemistry, the Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition is now accepting registrations for its annual statewide contest among middle school, high school, and home schooled students.

Photo: Clear, square crystal

Kameron Hughes, a student at John Long Middle School in Grafton, Wisconsin, grew this crystal, which earned the middle school best quality prize in 2016. Ilia Guzei

From March 1 to April 30, participating students will work to grow large and high quality crystals from safe, common materials. In early May, professional crystallographers — experts in the study of crystals and how atoms are arranged in solids — will judge the submissions and award prizes in several categories.

This year, for the first time, students whose crystals are selected as overall and best quality winners of the competition will have an opportunity for their crystals to grow aboard the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory through a partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and its Space Station Explorers (SSE) education program.

The free competition is now in its fourth year.

Student participants, teachers and parents will be invited to visit the UW–Madison campus and the chemistry department May 19 for an award ceremony. The event will honor the creators of the prize-winning crystals and expose visitors to the types of equipment, laboratories, and people involved in studying chemical structures at a research university.

About 610 students and teachers representing 23 high schools and 12 middle schools participated in the 2016 competition.

Learn more and sign up online.