We love simple STEM activities for kids that you can do at home and in the classroom. My kids are also dinosaur obsessed. So of course, I had to figure out a way to merge dinosaurs with crystal experiments!
While there are a lot of dinosaur science experiments, this one doesn’t focus so much on the science of dinosaurs.
Instead, it uses dinosaurs to make other science themes more interesting.
The dinosaur salt crystal science experiment turned out great, and the kids had a blast with it.
Scroll to the end of this post for more fun dinosaur learning activities!
How to Do the Salt Crystal Science Experiment
My kids love dinosaurs, so we turned them into a salt crystal science experiment! Follow along to read how we made our crystal dinosaurs!
Salt Crystal Science Explanation
What’s the science behind the dinosaur salt crystal science experiment? Sodium chloride crystals (salt crystals) always form in cube shapes through iconic bonding.
When you create a supersaturated solution of salt in your water, the extra salt particles will cling to the surface of the item inside of the jar. As the water evaporates, more and more salt particles cling to the dinosaurs, making thick salt crystals all over your dinosaurs!
Kids will love examining the dinosaurs covered in salt crystal cubes. And if the kids want to taste the crystals, there is little harm in that!
Salt Crystal Science Themes
In this experiment, kids learn several scientific concepts. You can cover the following concepts with this experiment:
- Supersaturated solutions
- Ionic bonding
- Salt chemistry
You don’t have to cover every topic at once. Make several batches of salt crystals and focus on one topic at a time. Use our science experiment worksheet to complete this activity in the classroom.
Hypothesis for Growing Crystals
- Do salt crystals dissolve in fresh water?
- Are all crystals square?
- How long does it take to make salt crystals?
- Does changing how much salt is in the liquid change how fast the crystals form?
- Does changing the temperature of the liquid change how fast the crystals form?
Salt Crystal STEM Extensions
You can turn this science activity into a full-blown STEM activity if you ask a few extra questions. Add these elements into your lesson for a well-rounded experiment!
Science: Does the amount of salt change how the crystals form?
Technology: Use a microscope to examine the crystals. Can you still see the square shape?
Engineering: What factors make the crystals grow faster? What makes them grow slower?
Math: How long does it take for crystals to form? How hot does the water have to be to dissolve the salt? What is the chemical formula and atomic number for salt?
How Long Does it Take to Grow Salt Crystals?
With this salt crystal recipe, your crystals will start to form in about 2 hours.
You’ll see full crystal development within 48 hours.
For best results, let the crystals fully dry before examining them.
Supplies for Making Salt Crystals
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- Stove or hot plate
- Toy dinosaurs
- Pipe cleaners
- Magnifying glass
- Microscope (optional)
Morton Salt Regular Salt, 26 Oz, Pack of 212 Ball Mason Jar with Lid – Regular Mouth – 16 oz by JardenCHENILLE STICKS PIPE CLEANERS for Craft 100pcs Set by Colorona – Extra Long Reusable Chenille Wire Stem – Bendable & Twistable Summer Art Pipes – Kids Safe – Assorted Colors (12 Inches) 2017 EditionDixon Ticonderoga Wood-Cased #2 HB Pencils, Box of 96, Yellow (13872)ValeforToy 72 Piece Mini Dinosaur Toy SetScience kits for kids microscope Beginner Microscope Kit LED 100X, 400x, and 1200x Magnification kids science toys,redKadaon 10X Antique Mahogany Handle Magnifier Reading Magnifying Glass for Reading Book, Inspection, Coins, Insects, Rocks, Map, Crossword Puzzle
How to Make Salt Crystals Step by Step
Follow along with these directions to make your own dinosaur-themed salt crystals!
If you want to do this experiment in class, the hardest part is boiling the water. If you have access to a classroom stove you can use that, otherwise, you can use a Bunsen burner or a hot plate to heat your water.
I’ve found that boiling water helps dissolve the salt the fastest. While the water is boiling, the kids can wrap a pipe cleaner around their dinosaurs.
Once the water is boiling, pour in the salt. It usually takes about half a regular-sized container of salt to make one jar of supersaturated solution, but you can fit several toy dinosaurs into one jar (we fit 3 in easily).
Add the salt until the salt starts to form a crust on the water, then remove it from the heat. Let the solution cool to room temperature.
Once the solution cools, pour it into the jars. Let the kids drop the dinosaurs into the jars. Wrap the other end of the pipe cleaner around a pencil to keep the dinosaurs suspended in the solution.
Put the jars in a sunny location.
Crystals will start to form in a few hours, but you’ll get the biggest crystals if you let the dinosaurs soak for about 3 days.
Pull them out and investigate your new crystal dinosaurs!