In just its second year, the U.S. Crystal Growing Competition has drawn student entries from 20 different states.
The competition is the brainchild of University at Buffalo chemist Jason Benedict.
"I think it's a lot of fun and the feedback that we got from participants last year reflected that," Benedict told WBFO.
"We got a huge number of letters from people saying, 'Thank you, the kids had a lot of fun.'"
According to Benedict, Canadians have been conducting a crystal growing competition for many years prior to the emergence of his nationwide competition.
Sixty teams from elementary and high schools have entered the competition. With cash prizes on the line for the winners, Benedict believes the contest is helping to build a wider interest in science.
"We all want to put an emphasis on STEM education and getting kids interested in science," Benedict said.
"When you grow one of these crystals, [and] it's pretty easy to grow a crystal the size of a golf ball, when you just hold one of these things, it's really marvelous."
Teams begin growing the crystals this week. In five weeks, those crystals will be shipped to UB where Benedict and a panel of experts will determine the winners.