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It’s Crystal Clear: Hands-on Activities Engage Sixth-Graders at PVC


To enrich their study of rocks, minerals, and crystals, PVC sixth-graders created “Crystal Gardens” with geologist, Stephen Soltish, from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester.

Sixth-grade Math and Science teacher, Christina Pegna, shared the inspiration for this lesson, explaining that she and her fellow teachers are “always looking for more hands-on experiences for our students.” During this activity, students learned the scientific aspects of crystals and developed a comprehension of their structure and formation. 

To create the gardens, students combined salt, water, bluing, food coloring, and ammonia, and poured these over porous base materials including coal and sea shells. Through capillary action and evaporation, the salt recrystallizes into beautiful, delicate coral-like formations. Mr. Gallagher encouraged his students to leave them in the classroom over the weekend and they returned to see formed crystals.

If you’re looking for a rainy or snowy day activity, you can follow the directions on to create one at home.