CCDC Home Learning Collection

Highlights and insights about our home-friendly activities for kids, towards the discovery of the wonders of crystals.

At the beginning of summer, we launched the CCDC Home Learning series, a collection of activities designed to guide young learners to the discovery of the wonders of crystals. One by one, over the last few months we have added four activities, covering topics from states of matter to polymorphism, from crystallisation to the CSD. With a variety of activities now available we wanted to give you a flavour of what is in the collection, highlight some of the fun features and present our approaches to explain and introduce new scientific concepts.

 

The activities in the collection

The CCDC Home Learning collection consists of four activities: “Crystals Showcase”, “Identikit of Common Substances”, “Lego, Chocolate and Polymorphs”, and “How Crystals are Made”. Hereafter, you can find some highlights for each activity in the order we would recommend.

Virtual badges for the learners as a reward for completing each activity from the collection.

 

Crystals Showcase

The first activity is the Crystals Showcase. As the title suggests, the aim is to showcase the beauty of crystals. However, we decided not to dive straight in, but to start from the observation of our surroundings and invite the learners to discuss what solid, liquid and gas states are, even presenting the concept of microscopic organisation of molecules. We consider this discussion important to pave the way to the introduction of what crystals are and to build a good foundation for the learners. After some fun puzzles with the activity keywords, it is time to admire the beauty of crystals, through pictures, videos, and the 3D viewer of the molecular structures for some CSD entries.

Learning outcomes: review the states of matter and learn what a crystal is.

Don’t miss this activity if: you like word puzzles and amazing pictures.

 

Identikit of Common Substances

Knowing what a crystal is and that crystals are all around us sets the tone for the Identikit of Common Substances. In this activity, the young learners become CSD Detectives and fill in identikits of molecules that they can find in the house, thanks to the information from the CSD.

Learning outcomes: learn about common substances and their crystal structures.

Don’t miss this activity if: you like investigating the world around you.

Word puzzle from the “Crystals Showcase” and examples of molecules from the other activities.

 

Lego, Chocolate and Polymorphs

The observation of familiar objects is the key ingredient (quite literally!) in Lego, Chocolate and Polymorphs. While it is possible that kids have heard the word “crystal” before, maybe in association with beautiful minerals, the word “polymorphs” is likely to sound mysterious. And that is where relying on the comparison with familiar objects (“imagine building blocks are molecules”) and on shared experiences (who has never had a not-so-perfect chocolate bar?) makes even the unfamiliar polymorphism a fun, not-so-scary, and even tasty, concept.

Learning outcomes: learn about polymorphism.

Don’t miss this activity if: you want to build “polymorphic” constructions.

 

How Crystals Are Made

The next question to answer could not be anything but: how are crystals made? The How Crystals Are Made activity thus explores the challenging topic of crystallisation. Again, the possibility to experience crystallisation in the world around us supports us in this task (yes – more tasty examples). We can also rely on the knowledge of crystals and states of matter that we have built with the learners in the previous activities.

Learning outcomes: learn about solutions, supersaturation and crystallisation.

Don’t miss this activity if: you are looking for an excuse to have a cup of tea or an ice lolly for scientific research.

 

Explaining new concepts using familiar objects

Throughout these activities, you can note a common theme: the observation of the world around us. This is central for us. Indeed, it provides a set of examples that we could explain using the new concepts we want to introduce. These are hence the foundation on which we could build more knowledge of crystals. Moreover, presenting to the learners a familiar situation from a different perspective challenges and hopefully encourages them to approach the world around using these new tools and concepts.

 

The way we designed the Home Learning worksheets and educational material, however, kept in mind not only the learners, but also the activity leaders, with their variety of backgrounds in science and crystals. For this reason, we always tried to include examples to kick-off the discussion with the learners, and solutions and further discussion for open questions and exercises. We also included a glossary at the end of each activity main handout, for fast access to some of the most important concepts for the topic (no one would argue that “chocolate” was not a central concept for polymorphism!).

Highlights of some of the handout features.

 

Heading back to school

As many children are now heading back to school, we hope the CCDC Home Learning collection can support teachers and educators with activities that are easy to follow and can be carried out with little or no additional material.

 

If you have used any of the activities or if you are going to, we would like to hear from you and see them in action. And if you want to collaborate with us on more educational resources, do not hesitate to get in touch! To contact us, write at hello@ccdc.cam.ac.uk.

You probably have seen that the learners received a virtual badge as a reward for completing each activity. Unfortunately, there is not a badge for reading the blog until the end, but we still recommend not to miss out on the fun and the learning with the activities!