Chromatography for Kids Activity

3.4 based on 83 ratings
Updated on Mar 24, 2016

Does your child love colors? Conduct this colorful science project with your child to learn about chromatography, the process of separating color pigments. Let's get to it!

What You Need:

  • Paper towels
  • Clothespin or magnet
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Tablespoon
  • Water-soluble markers
  • Coffee filters
  • Clear cup
  • Water
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  1. Take a coffee filter and mark a line two inches from the bottom.
  2. Instruct your child to fold the coffee filter in half.
  3. Have him decorate above the mark with markers.
  4. Pour two tablespoons of water into the cup.
  5. Fold the coffee filter in half twice, and put it in the cup.
  6. The colors will travel upwards on the filter! Ask your child to notice the different colors on the filter.
  7. Take the filter out, and let it unfold and dry.

What's Happening?

Colors are made up of molecules! The coffee filter absorbed the liquid, and the color molecules get dissolved. Some of these color molecules are smaller and lighter than others, so they move at different speeds. That's why the colors look separate!

Incorporate Art in Your Science Project!

  • Make a butterfly: Cut out your coffee filter to make it look like a butterfly, and hang it with a clothespin or magnet.
  • Make a flower: Fold the filter up into fourths. Put a pipe cleaner underneath, making it look like a flower! To make the flower look full, you can puff the filter up.
Latrenda Knighten has spent 19 years teaching in a variety of elementary school classrooms, from kindergarten through fifth grade. For nine of those years, she taught kindergarten. She also served as an elementary school math and science specialist. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.