The 2019 Clarion University Crystal Growing Competition was a contest open to all and aimed to introduce students (and chemistry enthusiasts) to the exciting world of crystallization. The study of crystals is very important in the field of chemistry because it helps scientists understand how atoms and molecules interact. We hoped the competition would allow us to connect with science teachers in our area to bring excitement about chemistry to kids of all ages, generate positive publicity for Clarion University, and increase interest in our science programs. There are similar successful programs (the Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition, the International Union of Crystallography Crystal Growing Competition, and the National Crystal Growing Competition) that we used as a models for our project, but our competition was little different from these in that it was open to anyone who was interested in participating not just K-12th grade students. Individuals and teams participated in the Clarion University Crystal Growing Competition by entering their largest most perfect single crystal and/or a cool crystal formation.


We hosted four Crystals at Clarion Events during February and March for those interested in growing a cool crystal formation that could be entered into the competition. We had 99 individuals attend these events ranging in age from 5 years old to 69 years old. Participants included: individual kindergarten — college age students, families with their K-12th grade students, current CUP students and their families, CUP Alumni and their families, grandparents with grandchildren, a Clarion University Professor, a Girl Scout Troop from the Mercer area, the entire 4th Grade Class from Immaculate Conception School in Clarion, and a group from the Community Learning Workshop.

Hailey Perry (Cranberry Elementary) designing a base out of pipe cleaners for her crystals to form around.

Joey Spence (IC Clarion) and Mitchell Long (CUP) using the equipment in the General Chemistry Lab to make hot borax solutions.

Alex Hummel (IC Clarion), Parker Brown (IC Clarion), and Dr. Jacqueline Knaust suspending a pipe cleaner formation in a hot borax solution.

Crystals growing on Dana Coulson's (Clarion Limestone Elementary) pipe cleaner formation as the solution slowly cooled over a 12-24 hour period.

Dana's crystal formation after it was removed from the borax solution, allowed to air dry, and dipped in polycrylic to coat and seal the crystals.

Rebecca Peterson (CUP Alumna) and her children Lillian and Declan (Cochranton Elementary) wearing their competition T-shirts at the March 9, 2019 "Crystals at Clarion Event." Rebecca earned a BS in Chemistry from Clarion in 2016 and is currently working as a Coating Specialist at SMS Group in Oil City, PA

Lillian's abstract crystal formation.

Declan's Dino crystal formation.

Rebecca's large bowl and small bowl crystal formations.


99 individuals attended the Crystals at Clarion Events, and submitted their crystal formations to the Crystal Growing Contest.

In total, 234 individuals participated in the Contest. In addition to the crystal formations submitted by individuals who attended the Crystals at Clarion Events, we received submissions from the following schools:

· 1 from A-C Valley Elementary School, Foxburg, PA

· 9 from A-C Valley High School, Foxburg, PA

· 3 from Cranberry Elementary, Seneca, PA

· 1 from Cranberry High School, Seneca, PA

· 12 from Clarion Area Elementary School, Clarion, PA

· 3 from Clarion-Limestone High School, Strattanville, PA

· 1 from Commonwealth Charter Academy, PA

· 5 from General McLane High School, Edinboro, PA

· 17 from Oil City High School, Oil City, PA

· 2 from St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT

· 9 from West Shamokin High School, Rural Valley, PA

· 1 from West Forrest High School, Tionesta, PA

All participants received competition T-shirts free of charge.

The front of the competition t-shirt with our 2019 "Of Quartz I Love Chemistry" logo.

The back of the competition t-shirt highlighting all of our sponsors.


There were 32 single crystal submissions and 125 coolest crystal formation submissions. The total number of submissions is less than 234 because some individuals entered their submissions as part of a group.

In the Single Crystal categories, there were:

· 3 submissions from K-5th grade students

· 1 submission from 6th-8th grade students

· 26 submissions from 9th-12th – grade students

· 2 submissions from adults

In the Coolest Crystal Formation Category there were

· 15 submissions by K-3rd grade students

· 25 submissions by 4th-6th grade students

· 31 submissions by 7th-12th grade students

· 40 submissions by adults


1st Place K-5th Grade ($100 Gift Card Prize)

  • Austin Perry (Cranberry)

2nd Place K-5th Grade ($50 Gift Card Prize)

  • Nathaniel Shambaugh (Cranberry)

3rd Place K-5th Grade ($25 Gift Card Prize)

  • Hailey Perry (Cranberry)

1st Place 6-8th Grade ($100 Gift Card Prize)

  • Elijah Shambaugh (CCA)

1st Place 9th-12th Grade ($100 Gift Card Prize)

  • Sam Barker and Tyler Sweeney (West Shamokin)

2nd Place 9th-12th Grade ($50 Gift Card Prize)

  • Desirea Meabon (Cranberry)

3rd Place 9th-12th Grade ($25 Gift Card Prize)

  • Braden Murray, Suzie Kandor, Roemicha Baum, and Sierra Verostek (AC Valley)

1st Place Adult ($100 Gift Card Prize)

  • Samuel Vaal, David Heroux, Emma Timmel, Samantha Delaney, and Zoe Emory (St. Michaels College Chem Club)

2nd Place Adult ($50 Gift Card Prize)

  • Jeff Hankey (West Shamokin Teacher)

1st Place Coolest Crystal Formation

Tiffany Bandi (CUP Alumna)

($100 Gift Card)

2nd Place Coolest Crystal Formation

Josh Harold

($50 Gift Card)

3rd Place Coolest Crystal Formation

Alayna Dowdall (CUP Student)

($25 Gift Card)

Honorable Mention -- K-3rd Grade ($25 Gift Card)

Kira Null (Clarion Area)

Honorable Mention -- K-3rd Grade ($25 Gift Card)

Samantha Patton (IC Clarion)

Honorable Mention - 4th-6th Grade ($25 Gift Card)

Kathryn Fenske (IC Clarion)

Honorable Mention - 4th-6th Grade ($25 Gift Card)

Kaden Drake (AC Valley)

Honorable Mention -- 7th-12th Grade ($25 Gift Card)

Madison Hurrelbrink (AC Valley)

Honorable Mention -- 7th-12th Grade ($25 Gift Card)

Chris Pederson, Dominic Grubbs, Dylan Burton, Brandon Anderson, and Travis Schwartz (West Forrest)

Honorable Mention -- Adult ($25 Gift Card)

Brandon Gohn (CUP Student)

Honorable Mention -- Adult ($25 Gift Card)

Hope Kiesling (CUP Student)