Winners of the Spanish Crystallization contest announced

A team from the Colegio Santo Domingo, Oviedo has won the Spanish Competition 'Crystallization in Schools'. The first prize of the contest has gone to the beautiful city of Oviedo, in northern Spain, for a crystallization project entitled 'The Crystallizing Adventure'. These students performed a series of crystallization experiments including different salts and food colouring powders to grow a number of crystals of extraordinary beauty, plenty of different colours and very large size.

On the morning of Saturday 10 May, more than 300 people, including students participating in the contest, their tutors, and many other students, family and friends who decided to accompany the selected teams at this final step of the contest, gathered at the premises of the headquarters of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in the heart of Madrid.

The final involved 40 projects from all over Spain, selected from the initial efforts of the more than 7,000 students and nearly 300 teachers who participated in this year's competition. A total of 189 schools state-wide took part this year. A similar number of centres had to stay out of the competition owing to organizational difficulties in obtaining the required crystallization material.

The jury had a very difficult job in deciding the contest winners because most teams presented extremely creative projects, carefully illustrated. The jury considered both the results and the presentation in terms of precision and order. Special attention was also given to the implementation of the project in terms of a proper work up according to the scientific method. In all cases checks were made for the existence of a well elaborated - and generally very well presented - laboratory notebook. In many cases, the poster presentation was complemented by exceptional videos of their experience in the laboratories.

The jury was formed of renowned researchers from different scientific areas close to crystallography, together with representatives from scientific associations and some experimented science disseminators and journalists. The presence of the President of CSIC, Professor Emilio Lora-Tamayo, asking the young students details of the projects, was really amazing: the highest authority of the greatest Spanish institution dedicated to the creation of knowledge was just asking them about their crystallization projects!

This final part of the contest had also the exceptional presence of the IUCr President, who enjoyed examining most of the posters and interacting directly with the students. Professor Desiraju was greatly impressed, not only by the quality of the crystals prepared, but also by the appropriate and precise answers of the participants.

The awards ceremony was preceded by a brief but very interesting talk by Professor Desiraju, who showed the audience the relevance of crystals in our life, and their long history; of particular interested were precious crystals some embedded in royal crowns.

The event closed with the presentation of the awards to the best projects. Ten prizes were awarded: three for the first posters, one selected by the participants themselves in an internal vote, and six additional secondary awards. All the participants shared good feelings from this experience, not only on account of the beauty of crystals, but also because of the sppreciation of crystallography that the contest offers to the students. Most probably we have inspired a devotion to science in some of these young researchers.
Our deepest congratulations to all winners and all participants; you have all done an excellent job. Here we summarize the awards.

First Prize: The Crystallizing Adventure

Colegio Santo Domingo de Guzmán (Oviedo)
Students: Rodrigo Fernández, Marina García and David González
Tutor: Mar Fernández Ordoñez

Second Prize: A Floral Crystallization

I. E. S. La Bahía (San Fernando, Cádiz)
Students: Celia Garrido Ibáñez, Alejandra Rodríguez Bey and Alba Expósito Bey
Tutor: José Joaquín Ortega Viruel

Third Prize: NaCl - a non-common salt

I. E. S. Massamagrell (Valencia)
Students: Sheila Cárdeno Martínez, Paula Guijarro Muntaner, Nuria Menchón Bellver and Paula Peris Costa
Tutor: Mónica Pérez Herranz

Popular voting Prize: The impurities treasure

Colegio Máyex (La Laguna, Tenerife)
Students: Adriana del Pino Herrera, Samantha Castro García y Elena García De Lamo
Tutor: Carmen Rosa Barreda Méndez

[2014: Spanish Schools Crystallization Competition: Final event]
First Prize winners

[2014: Spanish Schools Crystallization Competition: Final event]
Second Prize winners

Fernando J. Lahoz

See more photographs from the event in the photo gallery | Watch the video on Youtube