Published December 9, 2016
The crystals began arriving at UB in late November, some from thousands of miles away.
They came in bubble wrap and padded envelopes. One was delivered in person. Another arrived in a Tiffany & Co. jewelry box, an iconic choice of packaging in robin’s egg blue. Most were shipped for $5 or $6, but others were sent overnight at a cost many times more.
These were the 2016 entries for the third annual U.S. Crystal Growing Competition.
The contest, run by Jason Benedict, UB assistant professor of chemistry, gives K-12 students and teachers five weeks to grow the best, brightest crystals out of powdered aluminum potassium sulfate. Winners get cash prizes and the event drew participants from 26 states this year.
On Dec. 6, five UB faculty and staff members convened in the Natural Sciences Complex to score 83 entries received. The judges included:
The panel members scrutinized crystals large and small, crystals milky and clear, crystals with sharp edges and crystals with rough, irregular shapes. The event brought a bit of holiday sparkle to campus, with the judges ooh’ing and aah’ing when they came across an entry that hit the mark.
“It’s so beautiful,” Markelz said while handling one particularly handsome specimen.
“It’s so clear,” Atilla-Gokcumen agreed.
“Beautiful facets,” Markelz concluded.
The contest winners, announced on Dec. 8, are:
The contest is sponsored by the American Crystallographic Association, the UB Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society, Bruker AXS, The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, Krackeler Scientific Inc., the National Science Foundation, Ward’s Science, Jason Benedict and Jordan Cox.
The entries just keep getting better and better!!! Kids growing crystals... Awesome! Check out some of the participants on Twitter @USCrystalComp or #2016USCGC.