Science Club Participates in National Crystal Growing Competition


Credit to Olivia Van Horn

One of the crystals that will be submitted is currently growing in a beaker in Malkmus’ room

By Olivia Van Horn

Many know chemistry teacher Donna Malkmus’s classroom but what students may not know about are the crystals that have been growing in there since Oct. 22. The science club has been working on getting their crystals to maximum size to send in for the national competition they are currently participating in.

“Science club is a group of students who are interested in all kinds of different scientific topics, that want to come together and just do fun things together,” Malkmus said.

Francis Howell North’s science club is an after/before school program for any student that is interested in science or interested in fun science projects. The club is run by Malkmus who is a chemistry teacher at North and has been for the past 34 years.

“Malk likes the competition and has been doing it for eight years now,” freshman Heidi Turek said, “it’s just a fun challenge we do.” 

The crystals are made from a powdery mix called alum powder, teams of two students pick the biggest baby crystal they made from the original mixture and the crystal will grow in the beaker of smaller crystals for around a month before sending them in for judging. The results of how everyone placed don’t come out till late January-early February.

“There are a couple of teams that I think have a good chance of winning,” Turek said.

The US Crystal Growing Competition was founded by Jason Benedict who is an associate professor in the department of chemistry at the University of Buffalo. The crystals that the science club sent in on November 22nd will be judged on quality and they will also receive an overall score. There are money prizes for the winners of each category, first place will receive $200, second place $100, third place $50.

“For the past seven years I have had a crystal that placed top 10 in the nation,” Malkmus said. “So it’s kind of a tradition now.”