Williamsville South students growing crystals for national competition that started in WNY


WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB)–Local students are getting excited about chemistry, all while competing in a national contest that started right here in Western New York.

Over the past five weeks, they’ve been growing crystals for the U.S. Crystal Growing Competition.

Teacher, Jeff Yap, says the activity fits perfectly into his lesson plan, and it gets kids a little more excited about learning.

“It kind of takes a lot of the non-tangibleness out of the science. Instead of being something that someone smart does, to anyone can do this,” Yap said.

The competition started right here in Western New York, in 2014, by Associate Professor Jason Benedict at UB. He provides the materials to make the crystals at a nominal fee. Sponsors including, the National Science Foundation, allow that cost to be low.

When the competition began, just 30 teams participated, but now, there are 150 teams involved from about 40 states.

“Crystals are ubiquitous, they’re found in so much of our everyday lives, from things like snow, ice crystals, sugar, salt. And people may not realize it, but crystals are the basis for computers, the chips in computers. Most drugs that we take when we’re sick come in the form of crystals and compounds,” Benedict said.

There’s a five-week growing period for the crystals, and then they’ll be sent off for judging. They’re judged based on quality and size.

The students in Mr. Yap’s class will pick the best one out of the class and send that one to be judged.

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