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!

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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.

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8 days later:

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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.

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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.

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

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

 

 

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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
•Water

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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:

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*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!

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*LaCroix for scale

Coming Soon: Mini-erals, pt.2

 

Charlie’s Magical Law

And for my next trick, I will attempt to move this red liquid through a glass tube using nothing but my hand!

(For about 22 seconds nothing really happens, but be patient!*)

Here’s the secret: The heat from my hand increased the temperature of the liquid just enough to create an increase of air pressure in the container; that increased air pressure is what pushes the liquid up through the tube. When the liquid is at the top of the container, air is then forced up the tube and cause the liquid to bubble. As the liquid cools so does the air pressure, causing the liquid to fall back down the tube.

And that’s the magic of Charles’s Law*!

*song in the video by Cherub
**the volume of a gas, at a constant pressure, expands as the temperature increases

 

Germination (Not as Gross as it Sounds)

(Germ-in-Nation)

This is a little experiment I conducted to compare the rate of germination between seeds that were initially given access to light versus seeds that were left in the dark.

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Materials:
Paper Towels • Beaker • Pipet • Water • Petri Dishes • Aluminum Foil • Scissors • Soil • White Beans • 2 Cardboard Trays • Pen • Sticky Notes

I needed the paper towels to fit inside the petri dishes, so I drew a circle around the dishes on the paper towels. I found out my scissors were literally not quite ‘cut out’ to cut the paper towel circles, and I ended up jaggedly tearing the circles out (science isn’t always pretty).

Once I placed the paper towels into the petri dishes I saturated them with water; not enough to pool water in the dishes, but enough to make the paper towels moist.

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Next, I arranged ten white beans into each dish; I covered one petri dish with foil, and labeled them accordingly.

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And then I waited. Each day I would check to make sure the paper towels were still moist, and add water as needed.

Five days later, the magic began! The beans had begun to germinate, and it was time to plant them!

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As you can see, it appears the beans that were given light during the germination have more sprouting. Interestingly enough, germination & sprout growth aren’t actually affected by light exposure. It’s hard to tell in the picture above, but more bacteria colonies were present in the seeds that were kept in the dark. Coincidence?

I then prepared the soil beds the seeds would be calling home.

germination5How cute is this tiny shovel?!

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After the seeds were planted into their appropriate containers, I moistened the soil and left them both in a sunny spot. And then waited again.

Three days later, the real sprouting began!

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It appears the beans that were given light during germination are growing more rapidly, however that may be due to the fact that they had more of a sprout when planted.

One day later, the ‘dark’ beans began to wake!

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And the morning after that, I woke up to this:

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I believe it is time to transplant these little guys and start harvesting some beans! Maybe I’ll give the ‘dark’ beans another day..

Side note: Happy 50th blog post!

 

Owl Pellet

Here are some pictures from my recent dissection of an owl pellet. If anyone is unfamiliar with what an owl pellet actually is, it’s all of the fur, bones, teeth, feathers, and insect shells that owls can’t digest. After eating small rodents, birds, and bugs owls spit out these parts.

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Initially the pellet was dry and hard, so I let it soak in warm water for about 5 minutes.

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Then, I began to carefully break apart the pellet with forceps and a probe, pulling out tiny little bones.

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I ended up with a lot of tiny bones! They included ribs, scapula, jaws with teeth, hind-limbs, fore-limbs, vertebrae, and other bone fragments.

 

The Eagles

Not the band, the bird!

This election year brings many great changes, the best thus far being a pair of Bald Eagles choosing to nest in the U.S. National Arboretum for the first time since 1947.

If you’re bored with your normal Netflix routine, you can watch these birds, affectionately named “Mr. President” and “The First Lady”, live 24 hours a day at the D.C. Eagle Cam. The website is also full of information and facts for any questions that may arise.

Two eggs have been laid, and one has already begun the hatching process!

“High up on his own, the eagle flies alone and he is free”