Meeting report
[Crystal growing challenge logo]

7th Singapore National Crystal Growing Challenge

Singapore, September 21-23, 2006 

[Prize-winning crystals]
[More prize-winning crystals]Some of the prize winning crystals.
The Singapore National Crystal Growing Challenge was started ten years ago jointly by the Dept. of Chemistry at the National U. of Singapore and Singapore National Inst. of Chemistry (SNIC) for secondary school, junior college and polytechnic students. It was held annually until 2000 when it was changed to a biennial event. The number of entries is increasing in every event and we had a record number of 189 participating teams from 87 secondary educational institutions in Singapore for the 7th crystal growing competition which was held September 21-23, 2006 at the National U. of Singapore.

Growing single crystals is still an art requiring much skill and patience. Hence growing very big and aesthetically pleasing single crystals is not just associated with intelligence. The students are excited when crystals with wonderful colors and well-developed faces with sharp edges start growing before their eyes. They are proud and happy; it is as if they had grown diamonds and rubies and above all crystal growing is lots of fun. It is no wonder that this challenge has become the most popular event among secondary educational institutions in Singapore!

Once again the students had an opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and to learn more about the science of this art of crystal growing. They displayed their crystals very artistically and it was very hard for the judges to select the best crystals The final exhibition and prize distribution held at the National U. of Singapore on 23 September was attended by more than 400 students and teachers.

There were three categories for this competition, junior (for secondary school students), senior (for junior college and polytechnic students) and open. For each category, there were first, second, third and two meritorious prizes carrying cash awards $400, 300, 200 and 50 (x 2) respectively in addition to trophies for the top three crystals. For the junior level category, the students were asked to grow potassium aluminium sulphate, dodecahydrate. The senior level students were challenged to grow colorless sodium bromate crystals. The students for the open level were given the task of growing cubic single crystals to exercise their creativity, individuality and scientific knowledge but they could not use the crystals for the other two categories.

There were 116 entries from 69 secondary schools for the junior level, 31 entries from 18 junior colleges and polytechnics for the senior level and 42 entries from 21 institutions for the open category. Some of the prize winning crystals are shown in Figure 2. Hian Kee Lee, the Deputy Head of the Department of Chemistry gave the welcoming address and a special address was given by Guan Huah Yeoh, Vice-President, Singapore National Inst. of Chemistry. The guest of honour for the prize presentation ceremony, Eng Chye Tan, Dean of the Faculty of Science, inspired the audience by highlighting the research achievements of the two time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. This year’s competition was sponsored by Bruker Singapore Pte Ltd. and the Faculty of Science. Details are available at the website: www.chemistry.nus.edu.sg/events/ncgc/index.html.

Jagadese Vittal and Feng Xu
[Prize winners]Prize winners, teachers of the winning teams and organizers with the guest of honour Eng Chye Tan, Dean of Faculty of Science (6th from right).