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  • Gloria Hoffner

Climbing a Salt Ladder to Rock Candy

Science for Seniors - FREE - Tuesday activity - Grow a salt vine! Salt is vital to all human life but too much salt is harmful to humans. The expression, worth your weight in salt, comes from the time when Roman soldiers were paid in salt and then used that payment as barter for goods. In this experiment, you set it out and allow residents to observe what happens over several days time. It can be a great way of enticing residents to leave their rooms for a nice walk to the experiment set-up and perhaps meet or make a friend along the way. As activity directors we tend to be the outgoing personalities that jump in with a smile and a handshake to meet someone new. If we put ourselves in the role of a new resident who never planned to leave their home, their friends, their daily activities and groups then suddenly their life is uprooted and they are in a retirement community with no say over what and when they eat, no familiar faces, no favorite routine but just strangers with schedules for everything from showering to going outdoors. It's hard. Start small and offer this fun idea so they like the experiment have time to slowly adapt. Materials: 8 inch string, salt, tablespoon, paper clip, 12 ounce clear glass jar, hot water and a pencil. Process: Fill the jar with hot water and add a tablespoon of salt. Stir until salt dissolves. Tie one end of the string around the center of the pencil and the other end to the paper clip. Hang the string over the jar dropping the paper clip into the salt solution but don't allow the paper clip to touch the bottom of the jar. Place the jar in a warm spot where it will rest visible to residents but undisturbed for a week. Results: As the water evaporates from the jar, the salt atoms are drawn together forming crystals along the length of the string.

Extra Science for Seniors Fun - You can use this process to make old fashioned rock candy. Replace the salt with 8 ounces of sugar in 4 ounces of water and in less than a week, residents will enjoy the rock candy style treat of their youth!

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