Remix, Remake, Curate

Learning with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Tar River Writing Project, & The Poetry Project

Make Cycle 4: Making Growth Crystal Clear

Hi everyone, and welcome to Week Four of Remix, Remake, Curate!  We are ready to kick off this week by exploring the micro world of crystals. We enjoyed reading, listening to, and watching your nature memories last week, and we will be overlapping a bit by continuing Make Cycle 3 due to last week’s ice and snow. While we’ve had a great time spending time outdoors with the last make cycle, we’re bringing the science of making indoors this week. As we progress, we will dive into #imicrosci with the science of crystal formation by exploring how to make various types of crystals and sharing how our discoveries tie in to growth through story writing and poetry. As with each Make Cycle in this MOOC, you are welcome to join in where you can, tacking and jibing, making and creating various types of crystals, giving and taking according to your interests, passions, and availabilities.

This week’s make cycle might appeal to the artist, writer, scientist, or even mathematician in you. We’ll be growing our own crystals in a few different ways using only a handful of simple materials. In many areas of the county, you have only had to look out your window this last week to see ice crystals, but this week, we hope you will explore growing a couple of other different types of crystals with us.


Make With Me

During this make cycle, we suggest the following activities to guide a study of crystals and growth.

Create a shape or word that represents what growth means to you.

Later, we’ll be growing crystals on pipe cleaners, so first, we need to start with the pipe cleaner itself.  Think about what growth means to you, either personal growth or a type of growth you’re studying in a class. Choose a word or image that represents the type of growth you want to explore. Then, shape your pipe cleaner into that word or image. Don’t be afraid to get creative with language and with visuals. If you want to get crazy and use more than one pipe cleaner, go wild.

pipe cleaner_Borax_0 hours

Pipe cleaner in borax solution

Grow crystals with borax

Following these simple directions, you can grow your own crystals with a handful of ingredients. You should start to see crystal growth within a matter of hours. We would love for you to document your crystal growth and post pictures in our Google + Community. If you’ve only got time to take one picture, post it. If you’re able to set up a time lapse camera and make a video of the crystal growth from start to finish, post it. We can’t wait to see what words and images you come up with, and how your creations transform as your crystals start to grow. Christy Flint, who works in the Micro World Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, has been playing with crystal growth in her lab for the past few weeks, examining borax crystals like the ones we’re making this week, as well as salt crystals.


Microscopic view of salt crystal in Christy Flint’s lab

Compose a six word poem about growth

We can start with a longer story or description of growth, and then we’ll work on whittling down to a six word poem. Trey Gass of The Poetry Project will be helping guide us in this activity during our Google Hangout on Tuesday, February 24th at 1pm. He will be working with us on putting our thoughts about growth into words. He’ll take us through a process of solidifying those thoughts and distilling them down to the most important pieces to produce a six word poem. Trey will help us see how our thoughts and words can crystallize, just like the materials we’re working with this week. If you miss the Hangout, no worries, it will be recorded so you can access it at any time, and you can get some of Trey’s other materials here. On Thursday, February 26th, TRWP facilitator Ashley Hutchinson will host a Twitter chat and invite you to tweet out your six word poems. We’ll also suggest ways for you to…


Consider using a tech tool to remix your six word poem. What would help you communicate your thoughts? Images? Video? Sound? You could record your poem using the SoundSee app from the 2nd make cycle, record your poem over a time lapse video of your crystal growth, make a Thing Link using pictures of your crystal, or engage in many other possibilities!

Materials and Inspiration

  • Borax
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Water
  • Container
  • Paperclips
  • Chopsticks or Pencils
  • Computer with Internet connectivity
  • Camera
  • Writing materials- paper, pen, etc

Last year was the International Year of Crystallography. Check out one of the winning student videos right here in the blog, or click here for more.

Places to Share

Just a reminder, here are the handy links to places we’ve been using to share and connect.

  • In Google Plus (G+), we hope you have all joined our Remix, Remake, Curate G+ community.
  • On Twitter, we encourage you to follow and use the #imakesci and #imicro
  • If you have a blog, you can make and create in your own digital space and share to the community on twitter with the #imakesci #imicro hashtag or the G+ community.

Live Events

We will be hosting a Google Hangout to show off some of our crystals, look at them under a microscope, and do a little writing on Tuesday, March 3rd from 1-2pm EST.

On Wednesday, March 4th, join us on Twitter for a chat about growth, six-word poems, and opportunities for remix. To join, follow use #imicro.

For more information on Google Hangouts, check out Getting Started with Google Hangouts in the Guide to Social Tools section of the TRWPConnect blog.

For More Info


We hope you have a great time playing around with science and words, growing crystals and writing reflections. Remember to share what you see and learn about growth in our G+ Community. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say about what growth is how you experience growth as a maker of science during this make cycle.


Make Cycle 4 Facilitators

Becca Bulvanoski, Christy Flint, Trey Gass, Ashley Hutchinson, and Betsey White

Author: gothutched

I'm a llama-enthusiast who teaches AP Language and Composition, AP Seminar, and journalism in eastern North Carolina.

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