Thursday, November 19, 2015

Crystal Habit

Crystal habit is what scientists call the uniqueness of the crystal structure of every mineral.  Certain minerals, such as table salt and epsom salt, have distinctive habits in the way their crystals grow.

My mom and I did an experiment to see how the crystal habits of the two different kinds of salts differed. We simply mixed teaspoons of salt in water and waited for the water to evaporate completely - that took weeks!

Table salt has crystal habits that are cube-shaped and they look a bit like little glass boxes. Quite pretty!

The habit of epsom salt grows in long, needle like crystals that can sometimes look like snow flakes.

I really enjoyed looking at the crystals through my jeweller's loop.  So did my mom!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gems & Minerals

I have recently developed an interest in minerals and especially, gemstones.  I went to an incredible gallery called Crystalworks Designs in Vancouver which helped spur on my passion.  Another good spot is this tiny little shop called Amethyst Creations.  I also love going to the UBC Pacific Museum of the Earth with its giant amethyst crystals and slab of malachite.

However the origin of my new hobby was The Elements: an Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe. I know what you're thinking - the same book that inspired the use of Glenn Seaborg for my Biography Fair project? Yup. That's the one!  It mentioned so many interesting gemstones that led me to borrow my all time favourite gem book, Gemstones of the World. I have read that book from cover to cover at least twice. And that's how it all happened.

Here is my collection of gemstones so far.  Some of my favourite pieces are my geode (top right), my sand tumbled Gobi Dessert agate (bottom left), and basically all the rest - I love them all!  As to where I search for buyable gems 99.99999 percent?  eBay!  Whether it's dumortierite, benitoite, or rhodochrisite, eBay has it.  I got my sea jasper (bottom right) from eBay.

Now, some gemstone trivia.  Do you know what the green leaf-like spot on my geode is?  That's not totally a fair question 'cause I have no clue what it is myself!  How about the greenish/purple gemstone in the centre of the silver box?  What is the cluster of purple crystals called?  Are the seven objects on the left blue bag gems or minerals?

(Answers: flourite, amethyst, both)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Flute Gold Medalist

After 3 years of lessons, Serena's flute teacher encouraged her to take the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) practical exam to see where she's at.

It was an intensive few months of practice as she prepared for the big exam in spring. The adjudicated exam included these segments: Repertoire, Technical Requirements, Ear Tests, and Sight Reading.

With a score of 90% and glorious remarks from the examiner, Serena received the highest mark in B.C. and is the recipient of the 2015 Gold Medal for Level 4 Flute!

We attended the ceremony for the presentation of national & regional gold medals as well as diplomas for the 2015 graduating class. It was a very joyous celebration for all the medalists & graduates and their proud families & teachers.

Keep up the great work, Serena!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Glenn Seaborg

Serena broke tradition this year. Having always chosen to study female historical figures for the past 5 years, she picked a male subject for her 6th Biography Fair presentation.

We've been reading through The Elements by Theodore Gray, a book about the periodic table. The name Glenn Seaborg kept showing up and piqued Serena's curiosity. Turns out he was a really cool chemist who helped discover 10 of the elements (including the infamous plutonium) and won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He had worked closely with 10 U.S. presidents from Roosevelt to Bush Sr., and was one of the lead scientists in the Manhattan Project.

After all her research, Serena decided to play off of how Glenn Seaborg was involved in many classified government projects. Her display included a little detective quiz and some "top secret" & "confidential" letters that she fabricated based on what she's learnt about Seaborg.

"Secrecy was an issue that improved with time but has not yet been satisfactorily resolved, especially with respect to the cumbersome and difficult declassification of so-called secret material."
Quote from "A Chemist in the White House: From Manhattan Project to the End of the Cold War" by Glenn Seaborg.