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SSPC are running a competition challenging young crystal growers

SSPC crystal competition – Dr Sarah Hayes, SSPC at the University of Limerick with previous winners. Picture: Alan Place

SSPC are running a competition challenging young crystal growers

Science Foundation Ireland research centres SSPC, the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, and, iCRAG, the SFI Research Centre for Applied Geosciences have announced the start of the 2021 National Crystal Growing Competition at the BTYS Exhibition. The competition challenges primary and post-primary level students to grow a single crystal, judged by expert scientists at the iCRAG and SSPC research centres.


Back by popular demand, the very successful National Crystal Growing Competition will challenge participants to grow crystals using ingredients readily available in the home, pharmacies, and hardware stores. This iteration of the competition has been specially designed for parents struggling to find appropriate activities for home-school science lessons during this period of school closure. It’s the perfect solution for all the young budding scientists out there.

Dr Sarah Hayes, Associate Director Academic Partnerships & Public Engagement for SSPC, commented:

 “We have always had very high quality crystals submitted to this competition and a high level of energy and dedication shown by the students and their teachers. As someone who appreciates the beauty and importance of crystals, it excites me to see the competition back in action. I can’t wait to see what the fantastic young scientists out there come up with.”

Elspeth Wallace, Education and Public Engagement Officer for iCRAG added:

“We are delighted to be once again working with SSPC to run such an innovative competition. At this moment in time, it is so important to find ways to engage with Irish students at home through which we can continue to encourage and develop their scientific interest. The National Crystal Growing Competition is an exciting challenge for both primary and post-primary level students.”

The National Crystal Growing Competition is an important element of SFI’s public engagement remit. The aim of the competition is to have fun with science and also inspire young minds to explore careers in the field. The competition is open to primary and post-primary students in Ireland and aimed at students who were challenged to grow a single crystal from a variety of compounds such as Salt (Sodium chloride or Potassium chloride), Alum, Sugar, or Copper sulphate.

To enter the competition, participants must send a picture of their crystal to experts at iCRAG and SSPC before the closing date of April, 16. More information, including crystal recipes and growing instructions, can be found on the National Crystal Growing Competition website HERE

The competition originated in 2014 with the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) Crystal growing competition, as part of the celebrations for the International Year of Crystallography. It has since grown from strength to strength and is a great addition to the many SFI outreach programmes hosted in Ireland.

SSPC is hosted at the University of Limerick and iCRAG is at the University College Dublin, both working with a host of partners.

About SSPC

SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, is a hub of Irish research expertise developing innovative technologies to address key challenges facing the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry. The aim of SSPC is to deliver industry-relevant technical solutions, which result in job growth and retention within this sector in Ireland and grow the skills base of qualified scientists and engineers. SSPC works with nine higher-education institutes (HEIs) including Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Cork, NUI Galway, Maynooth University, Royal College of Surgeons, WIT and its host University of Limerick.

Our unique and innovative culture of collaboration is helping the global pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry to develop more environmentally sustainable methods for drug manufacturing; to increase the range of medicines available to the public and to reduce drug manufacturing costs. SSPC’s advanced research programme extends from Molecule, Materials and Medicine into the Manufacturing and Modelling space.



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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.