Final Event of the 2013 competition in Spain

Scenario for a successful competition

For many years crystal growing competitions have been run successfully in a number of countries. With the help of the IUCr the organizers of these competitions want to share their experience with future organizers. The IYCr in 2014 provides perfect timing to start a new competition in your region or country. We present you with a scenario to do this and offer support in case of questions.

Things to decide before...

  • who can participate (age limit? different categories? regional or national) 
  • how to register
  • material to crystallize (sponsoring? how delivered? safety)
  • time period (depending on the school year)
  • judging on single crystal quality only, or together with other items (poster, log book, ...) and who will do the judging?

The ideal timeline

[competition timeline]

  • Start your registration early enough, preferably done by the teacher with a electronic registration module.
  • Provide two weeks for shipping and delivery of the product.
  • Before starting the experimental work the teacher should give some extra background for the pupils (about crystals, symmetry, solubility, crystal growth, ...)
  • Ideally 4-5 weeks are necessary to grow nice crystals. 
  • Ask the participants to keep a part of the wire at the crystal and to attach a label containing name and age of participants, school and weight of the crystal.
  • Give each crystal a unique number for the scoring.
  • Organize a prize awarding ceremony at a central location.

Some additional tips


Announcing your competition

Use email lists of chemistry, physics and biology teachers to announce your competition. Be present at events for teachers or present your activity in publications especially for teachers.

Individual or group work?

Growing a beautiful crystal takes time and an almost daily follow-up. For this reason it is better to divide the class into several groups of 4-5 pupils. Each group has then its own crystallization set-up and pupils can do the follow-up by rotation.

Local coordinators

Teachers and pupils may have a lot of questions during the competition. To prevent the mailbox of the coordinator from being overloaded, it is very practical to work with local coordinators who are the contacts for a certain region. Together all local coordinators can act as jury!

Prize awarding ceremony

Credit: Singapore National Crystal Growing Challenge

It is very important that the hard work of the pupils is recognized! In case only the quality of the submitted crystals is used, the proposed formula will work fine. When other items are combined, the ceremony should be preceded by a crystal fair where pupils present poster and logbooks and exhibit their crystals. Think of different categories of winners (age, longest crystal, heaviest crystal, best school ...). Use trophies (e.g. natural single crystals), medals or certificates for winners and participants. Combine the ceremony with a lecture on a crystallographic topic or show a video on crystals. Provide a press release.

Credit: picture by Luc Van Meervelt

Teacher formation

It is important to provide enough background information for the teachers. In fact you should convince teachers to participate with their class, and they should motivate their pupils in their turn. Put some background information about crystals, symmetry and crystal growth on your website or provide links to existing material (e.g. Organize a workshop for teachers!

And the costs ...?

Provided that you can find a sponsor for the starting material (e.g. a supplier of chemicals) the costs related to the organization of a crystal growing competition are rather low: development of website, translation, prize awarding ceremony including trophies and prizes. Unfortunately IUCr cannot provide financial support. For the prizes, sponsorship is also probable. Trophies can be home-made: buy some interesting natural single crystals of pyrite, quartz, fluorite, calcite or bi-terminated black tourmaline and glue them on to a support.