Four ways to learn about growing crystals

[1]IYCr2014 crystal-growing competition for schoolchildren

A major objective of the International Year of Crystallography is to establish a vibrant worldwide network of schools participating in crystal-growing experiments and taking part in national and regional competitions. This will introduce students to the exciting, challenging and sometimes frustrating world of growing crystals. We announce a worldwide competition, open to all schoolchildren. The winners will be those who most successfully convey their experiences to the panel of judges through videos or essays.

Download high-definition version of this video (195 MB, MP4 format)

Winners of the 2014 edition

A panel of judges has evaluated all the entries using the following criteria: creativity, aesthetic value, description of working plan and experimental work, clarity of explanations and scientific background. 

Click here to watch the videos

Certificates and prizes will be sent by mail to the laureates (laureates will be notified in advance about the exact date).
The official announcement of the laureates will take place during the IYCr2014 Legacy launch conference in Rabat (22-24 April 2015). 

How to participate?

The aim of the competition is to grow your own crystals (whether involved in a regional/national competition or not) and to convey your experience through a video or essay. The following guidelines are applicable:

  • for a video contribution: maximal duration of three minutes, format mpeg, avi or mov
  • for an essay contribution: maximal length five pages, PDF format obligatory

Each contribution should clearly show or mention the experimental work carried out by the participants during growing their single crystals (compounds and methods used are free of choice). Furthermore the contribution should reflect in a creative way on the experimental work and theoretical background and/or applications.


  • The closing date for submissions was 22 November 2014.
  • The competition was open to students of primary or secondary schools; maximum age 18.
  • Language: mother language of participant or English.
  • A maximum of one entry could be submitted by any individual or team (essay or video).
  • Contributions were required to respect the category guidelines (see above) and be submitted in digital form only.
  • The judging panel will be nominated by the International Union of Crystallography. The decisions of the judging panel are final.

Submissions are now closed. 



The winning contributions will receive a certificate and a medal.

Criteria for evaluation

A panel of judges will evaluate the entries in two different categories. The following criteria will be used: creativity, aesthetic value, description of working plan and experimental work, clarity of explanations and scientific background.

[2]Building a worldwide network of competitions

On this web site we provide information to teachers and to schools or other organizations who want to join in this exciting venture. For newcomers, the easiest way will be to contact the organizers of established national competitions. We provide tips on how to run such a competition that include information on getting started with basic crystal-growing experiments.

[3]Participation of UNESCO

The International Union of Crystallography has organized, together with UNESCO, a special crystal growing competition for selected schools belonging to the UNESCO Associated Schools Network. Selected schools have received a starters kit containing some documentation and 1 kg alum, the material to crystallize during this competition. A brochure provides information to teachers and schools who participate in this exciting venture.

The official start of the competition was Monday 6 October 2014. During a period of four weeks students should grow a single crystal of alum. We recommend to work in groups of 4-6 students which makes the daily follow-up of the crystallization process easier. The competition ends on Friday 31 October 2014. 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 are:

1st prize - Yishun Town Secondary School, Singapore

2nd prize - Benin Université, Benin

3rd prize - Yishun Town Secondary School, Singapore

4th prize – Colegio Juan Demonte N° 2701, Argentina

Additional information

[starter kit]

For more information, please contact:

UNESCO - Natural Sciences Sector
7 Place de Fontenoy, 75007 Paris

UNESCO - Natural Sciences Sector
7 Place de Fontenoy, 75007 Paris

[4]The difficulties - and beauties - of growing crystals artificially

In parallel with these activities for schoolchildren, the IUCr Commission on Crystal Growth and Characterization of Materials, in association with the International Organization of Crystal Growth, is building on this web site a gallery of pictures of artificially grown crystals. These pictures may be freely used for educational purposes, and demonstrate the wide range of procedures used to grow many types of crystal for research and industrial use.