I found several websites with simple directions for making rock candy. Just boil sugar and water, put it into a jar with a stick dangling from its opening, and voila… rock candy.
It would be a fabulous New Experience… if only it actually worked.
One day after school, we attempted to make our own rock candy. The kids measured and poured while I read the directions. This is probably where we went wrong. Children, by their careless nature, do not measure and pour accurately. Mothers, by their distracted nature, do not read carefully.
First lesson learned: Both chemistry and candy-making require accuracy and focus.
After a day of sitting on our kitchen counter, our sugar-water solution did not appear to be crystallizing. The kids were not disappointed. Luke was convinced it just needed more time. So, we let the glasses sit there for a few more days.
We went to an ice cream shop that also sells candy. I held up a piece of rock candy and said, “See, guys, this is what we were supposed to have in our glasses!”
The shop owner heard me and asked if we tried to make our own rock candy. She then gave us some advice. Second lesson learned: The solution needs to boil for about 5 minutes before pouring it into the glasses.
We knew we didn’t do that, so I thought the children would be okay with throwing the solution away. They were not. So, we let the glasses sit on the counter for a few more days.
I was explaining our failed candy experiment and the advice we got from the store owner to a friend who just happens to be a chemist. He gave a more scientific explanation about the cooking process. Third lesson learned: Boiling the water off creates a ratio of sugar to water will lead to crystal formation.
I passed along the information to the kids, thinking we could finally throw away the solution since it obviously did not have the right ratio of sugar to water. I was wrong once again, so the solution sat a couple of more days.
The kids looked at the glass on Tuesday and noticed that sugar crystals were forming along the sides and bottom of the glass. A few were attached to the stick, but they seemed to be randomly throughout the glass.
The teacher in me asked the kids to hypothesize why this was happening. Luke was on the right track when he said it was because we were patient. Fourth lesson learned: The ratio of sugar to water is now right for crystal formation because some of the water in the glass evaporated over time.
Now that crystals are forming, there is no way Luke and Leah will let me take these glasses off the counter. I am glad we all learned something from our failed experiment, but I really do wish sugar crystals formed a little more quickly!
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