Rules, Categories, and Prizes

Contest Rules

  • This competition is open to anyone who would like to participate.
  • Participants may enter crystals individually or as a team (2-5 team members).
  • Participants will be expected to provide their own materials and make careful assessment of any risk or safety precautions associated with growing their crystal. Samples of suitable compounds can be provided to teachers for use with students in their classrooms upon request.
  • For consideration, participants must submit crystals grown from a compound on the approved compounds list or get approval for their compound prior to submission.

Guidelines and Judging criteria for Single Crystal Submissions:

1. The maximum amount of starting compound you may use is 100 grams.

2. The crystal will be weighed, and the mass M recorded.

3. The quality of the crystal will be judged on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing a perfect crystal. Total Observed Quality Q = x.xx (out of 10) The following factors will be considered in judging quality:

      • match/mismatch with crystal type (out of 2)
      • presence/absence of occlusions (out of 2)
      • intact/broken edges (out of 2)
      • well formed/misformed faces (out of 2)
      • clarity/muddiness (out of 2)

4. The Total Score will then determined as follows:

      • Total Score = [log (M+10)] x Q
      • The logarithm of the mass plus 10 is chosen so that large poor quality crystals don’t swamp out smaller good quality crystals. Thus, a large (M=100. g) poor quality crystal (Q=5) and a small (M=0.5 g) high quality crystal (Q=10) would both earn a total score of 10.21 points.

Guidelines and Judging Criteria for Coolest Crystal or Crystal Formation Submissions:

Submissions in this category:

  • are not limited to single crystals
  • are not limited to 100 g of starting compound
  • will be judged based on creativity, aesthetic value

Categories & Prizes

Subject to availability, participants will be provided with a Competition T-shirt and the opportunity to win prizes in several categories.

Participants may enter crystals individually for the following:

  • Single Crystal from K-5th Grade Students
  • Single Crystal from 6th-8th Grade Students
  • Single Crystal from 9th-12th Grade Students, College Students, and Adults

AND/OR as a team (2-5 members):

  • Coolest Crystal or Crystal Formation from K-5th Grade Students
  • Coolest Crystal or Crystal Formation from 6th-8th Grade Students
  • Coolest Crystal or Crystal Formation from 9th-12th Grade Students, College Students, and Adults


Participants may enter one submission in a Single Crystal Category and/or one submission in a Coolest Crystal or Crystal Formation Category. Prizes in each of the categories are: $75 -- 1st, $50 -- 2nd, and $25 -- 3rd.


If you are interested in participating in the competition but would like some help getting started, join us at one of the Crystals at Clarion Events we are hosting on 2/29/2020 and 3/21/2020.


List of Approved Compounds (selected for their relative safety and availability)

    • Potassium Aluminum Sulfate also known as “Alum”, KAl(SO4)2 ∙ 12H2O
    • Potassium Chromium Sulfate also known as “Chrome Alum”, KCr(SO4)2∙ 12H2O
    • Disodium Tetraborate also known as “Borax” Na2B4O7 ∙ 10H2O
    • Copper(II) Sulfate Pentahydrate also known as “Blue Vitrol” CuSO4 ∙ 5H2O
    • Monopotassium phosphate also known as “KDP” KH2PO4
    • Ammonium Magnesium Sulfate Hexahydrate (NH4)2Mg(SO4)2 ∙ 6H2O
    • Magnesium Sulfate Heptahydrate also known as “Epsom’s Salt” Mg(SO4) ∙ 7H2O
    • Potassium Sodium Tartrate also known as"Rochelle salt", KNaC4H4O6 ∙ 4H2O

Contest Time Line

Online registration will close Wednesday April 8, 2020. Crystals must arrive at Clarion University no later than Wednesday April 15, 2020 for judging. All crystals will be displayed at the Clarion University Research Symposium on Friday, April 17, 2020.