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Module Abstract

In this module students create a saturated solutions using Borax and sodium acetate. Upon drying, each crystal will have a different shape. The shape at the macro level is driven by the arrangement of atoms. This repeating arrangement of atoms – which defines a crystal structure – is the unit cell. Students may introduce other chemicals to change the resulting structure. This modules serves as a good introduction to crystal structures supplementing the typical ball and stick models.

Module Resources and Documents

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Module Information, Procedures and Resources

PowerPoint Slides 

Module Alignment to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
NGSS Alignments Unit Cells and Crystal Structure

List of Required Materials

Most necessary classroom materials for the experiment connected to this module are available to educators at no cost through our Nano-Link Program.  To be eligible to request materials simply create an account and fill in all the profile fields on your Profile.  Once you have done so, you will be able to download lab instructions and teacher guides and also request shipment of lab materials to you.  The full list of items needed for this module is below.  Those available through Nano-Link are marked with an asterisk.


*Test Tubes

*Stir Sticks

*Sodium Acetate Anhydrous (Get SDS download from Flinn Scientific here)

Water Bath

Test tube rack

Test tube holder

* Borax (SDS download here.)