water jelly crystals, potential Sometimes, our students need a little reminder that if they just wait, if they just have a little patience, wonderful things can happen. Many students don’t understand this concept unless they see a tangible example of it, and Steve Spangler’s Water Jelly Crystals are the perfect way to show them.

There is science in every subject area, and this simple experiment demonstrates to any history, English, math, health, home ec, shop, computer, yes, and science, student the very simple concept of amazing transformation, the blossoming of potential, with the addition of just one thing.

At the beginning of class, I show the students the tiny, unimpressive-looking little beads that resemble the rock salt used in winter or with homemade ice cream. What could possibly come of adding just one more thing to these hard, unattractive things?

So I put them in a clear glass bowl and add one ingredient – water. Just water.  I send a student to fill the pitcher so they’ll know it’s no trick – it really is just water.  I ask the students to let us all know if they see anything change.

Class begins as usual.

It only takes about 20 minutes for someone to stand up and say something, and that something is usually, “WOW! Look at it! Look at it, you guys!”

Because with the addition of just one simple thing, a few mundane pieces (of what looks like nothing much) have become a treasure trove of glittering jewels.

This is what education does, you see. Add one simple thing to one other simple thing and the end result is something unutterably beautiful.

It’s also a lesson in polymers, but on this particular day, it’s the transformation from blah to pirate booty that is emphasized.

It’s so simple. It’s so beautiful. And it’s a lesson that is easily understood and remembered.

I bring baggies so the students can help themselves to a handful of “gems” to take home and nourish. With education, we need to keep feeding our knowledge – that’s how things grow.

I have students who are still nurturing 6-year-old water jelly crystals on their windowsills. This makes me really, really happy.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Some connections are made instantly.  Some connections take a little more time.  This is easily illustrated with various polymers. […]

  2. […] I‘ve posted before about using polymers as analogies for patience, tolerance, learning, and per… but each time I do this with students, I learn as much if not more than they do.  Kids that spend more time out in the hall doing lines than time in the classroom will try extra hard to behave so they, too, can stick their hands in the swollen polymers and give them a squeeze. […]

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