12 •  nov •  2021

With perseverance, comradeship and teamwork, a group of students from the Pascual Baburizza Agricultural Institute (IAPB), located in Calle Larga, Los Andes Province, belonging to the 8th grade, 1st and 2nd year secondary school, managed to win first place in one of the categories of a national crystallography contest, organized by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV).

In its seventh version, the event called “CristalEscolar PUCV”, organized by the Crystallography Laboratory of the Institute of Chemistry of the PUCV, brought together educational establishments from all over the country, with the aim of encouraging school scientific research through the realization of a crystal growth experience. This process consists of trying to develop a basic crystalline unit under appropriate experimental conditions so that they grow by “seeding” a supersaturated solution of solute, such as copper sulfate, monoammonium phosphate or sodium borate, with a “seed” obtained under the same conditions.

On this occasion, during May of this year, the university opened the call to begin creating the artistic projects, for which IAPB students Evelyn Ponce, Fernanda Toledo, Matías Rivera and Benjamín Silva, decided to form a science workshop, together with professors Pía Morales and Thomas Urra, teachers of this subject at the institute.

“We formed a very good team where each of us did different things. We were advancing very fast. We had our roles well formed within the team,” said Evelyn Ponce, a student in the second year.

In the middle of the pandemic, the young people began activities in their homes, through the delivery of material by the IAPB, where they met weekly with their teachers telematically to acquire knowledge about crystalline growth, both in theoretical and practical fundamentals.

Once the health restrictions were lifted, students and teachers met twice a week to work on the final project that would lead them to win first place. On this occasion, they were inspired by a seabed using the crystallization of copper sulfate on different surfaces such as eggshells, pipe cleaners, natural shells and plastic figurines, among others.

“It was a wonderful and motivating experience. We formed a very entertaining team where we all worked with a clear objective, which was to present a beautiful final project, where there was a commitment to attend each workshop and solve the problems that were given to us,” explained Thomas Urra, Science teacher.

For her part, teacher Pía Morales added that “winning a category motivated us a lot. On a personal level, it motivated me to continue with this and to be able to make science more accessible to all the students of the Institute. With this, they realize that it is not so complex and that everyone can understand and learn it. It is a beautiful way to show all the students that they can join in.”

In the future, the Science workshop team hopes to compete again in “CristalEscolar PUCV” and open the space for other students to join the team. It should be noted that this is the first time that the IAPB has won a scientific competition, marking a milestone within the school and all those who make up the educational community.