For the Birds

While out in the field, I happened upon some aquatic birds—I believe they were Barrow’s Goldeneye ducks, which are thought to originally be from Iceland.

bgd*Note: I did not actually take this photo

My field companion managed to capture these alluring creatures on video while I provide commentary on the colour variations between sexes of birds:


Special thanks to my field companion for producing the video!( :



Mini-erals; pt. 3

I waited a few extra days to record this third and final crystal in the series because it’s arguably the coolest. That being said, I am proud to present the glow-in-the-dark moon crystal!



I was unable to locate any information regarding what the “moon-base” actually consists of, but I’m assuming it’s packed with phosphors (particles that radiate visible light after being energized). Basically, after exposing these particles to light for a period of time they will slowly release their stored energy, emitting small amounts of “glowing” light.

So then the aqueous monoammonium phosphate solution was poured into the container.


8 days later:


Time to shed some light on the experiment (haha!). I exposed the crystal in the aqueous solution to a strong light for a about a minute and then I turned out the lights.


After basking in the glow of these crystals, I poured out the aqueous solution and arranged the crystals in a protective housing. The sans-solution crystals were then exposed to light once again.


Unfortunately, due to my extremely graceful nature, this experiment does not end happily.


On the bright side, I still have the little glowing moon disk for future use..




Mini-erals; pt. 2

The next mineral I would like to showcase: aluminum potassium sulfate, sodium chloride, & brilliant blue FCF (aka the aquamarine crystal)!

Not much to explain about this mineral; I simply put the crystal compound containing aluminum potassium sulfate, sodium chloride, & brilliant blue FCF into a container. Next, I poured the same monoammonium phosphate solution from the previous post into the container.


After four days of anxiously patiently waiting I discovered the crystal had grown, and was trying to escape.


A fair amount of liquid had evaporated already, but in order to see the crystalline structures in the container I poured out the rest of the sapphire blue solution.



I extracted the crystal structures that had grown in the container, and set them out to dry. After about five minutes I arranged them together into one little aquamarine crystal mass:




Up Next: Mini-erals; pt. 3





Mini-erals; pt. 1

Over the holidays I was given some pretty cool crystals—the only catch was I had to grow them myself.

The lab kit included enough material to grow three different types of crystal; we’ll focus on just one for now, since each one grows at a different rate.

The set up was so simple a child could have done it (ages 10+, adult supervision required).
Materials included:
•A mixing bowl & spoon
•Plastic containers for mineral growth
•Monoammonium phosphate
•Crystal compound: aluminum potassium sulfate, sodium chloride, & brilliant blue FCF
•Glow-in-the-dark moon crystal base
•Cardboard tree


First, the crystal solution had to be made. This was done by dissolving the monoammonium phosphate in boiling water. After letting the solution cool down to about 40°C (104°F), it was poured into a plastic base in which the constructed cardboard tree was then placed:


*the solution in this picture appears blue because I accidentally got some of the crystal compound containing brilliant blue FCF in it.. oops!

In the picture above, you can see the solution begin to get absorbed up into the cardboard. This process is called capillary action; as the solution gets wicked up through the tiny fibers in the cardboard the water evaporates, leaving behind the small crystal particles that had previously been dissolved.

24 hours later: All of the solution has been wicked up and evaporated, leaving behind a snowy-white crystal tree!


*LaCroix for scale

Coming Soon: Mini-erals, pt.2