The IYCr2014 crystal-growing competition for schoolchildren

Crystal growing competitions have been run successfully for many years in a number of countries. As one of the objectives of the International Year of Crystallography was to introduce students to the exciting, challenging and sometimes frustrating world of growing crystals, the organizers of a number of national and regional competitions wanted to share their experience with future organizers around the world. The IYCr in 2014 provided perfect timing to start many new regional and national competitions.

belgian_competition concurso_uy Concurso_Crecimiento_Cristales Crystal Growing Contest Logo US-diamond NZ Crystal Growing Competition logo-PCCG_crop

Some logos of national crystal growing competitions participating in the network

brochure was produced to provide newcomers with the necessary information to join this exciting venture of growing single crystals. Not only a scenario to set up a competition and some basic tips on how to get started with crystal-growing experiments were provided, but also support was offered by a small working group of coordinators of existing national competitions. In addition a new animated video 'How to grow a single crystal - with Johanna' was created to show the basic steps of growing large single crystals at the level of schoolchildren. These materials are available at the IYCr2014 website. At the end of 2014 we were able to locate at least 34 regional and national crystal-growing competitions.


To establish a vibrant worldwide network of schools participating in crystal-growing experiments a worldwide competition open to all schoolchildren up to 18 years old was set up. It is of course not realistic to grow during a same period of time single crystals of the same compound in every country. Instead the participants were asked to convey their experiences through videos or essays. A panel of judges has evaluated all the entries - 134 entries in total from 25 countries - using the following criteria: creativity, aesthetic value, description of working plan and experimental work, clarity of explanations and scientific background. A difficult job, as the quality of the submissions was amazingly good!

Five gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded together with 12 honorary mentions and four creativity prizes for the videos category, whereas, for the essays category, three gold, silver and bronze medals and seven honorary mentions. The official announcement of the laureates took place during the IYCr2014 Legacy launch conference in Rabat (22-24 April 2015). Medals, certificates and prizes were sent by mail to the laureates by the end of May. All winning entries are available at the website of the competition. Have a look, some of the videos are really professional and can be used in motivating others to start their own crystal-growing experiments!

Joanna_noIUCrFollowing the great success of the IYCr2014 competition, the IUCr has announced the 2015 edition of the worldwide crystal-growing competition for schoolchildren. This time only videos can be submitted, the closing date for submissions is 22 November 2015.

The IUCr has also organized, together with UNESCO, a special crystal growing competition for selected schools belonging to the UNESCO Associated Schools Network and running for a period of four weeks in October-November. A total of 51 crystals have been submitted to UNESCO headquarters from participants in Singapore, Benin, Argentina, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Zambia, Cape Verde and Switzerland. The laureates of this competition were participants from Yishun Town Secondary School in Singapore, Benin Université in Benin and Colegio Juan Demonte N° 2701 in Argentina.

Luc Van Meervelt
Coordinator of the IUCr Crystal growing competition for schoolchildren