Liquid Chromatography Activity

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Updated on Jan 16, 2013

Would your child like to learn about a hidden world?  All she needs to do is open her box of markers.  The black ink of a marker might look like one thing, but chromatography reveals that the black color is actually a mixture of several shades.  Introduce your child to this world with a simple project that will result in beautiful and unique decorations with a scientific flair.

What You Need:

  • Round coffee filters
  • Water-based markers
  • Small bowl
  • Dropper
  • Water

What You Do:

  1. Have your child flatten a coffee filter.
  2. Starting at the center of the filter, have your child draw a small circle using a marker she is interested in learning more about.
  3. Ask your child to draw bigger circles around each of the other ones.  The most clear results come from circles at least an inch apart from another.
  4. When your child has finished all her circles, have her place the coffee filter on top the bowl.
  5. Have your child place tiny drops of water along each of her circles. The drops do not have to touch each other.  A dropper works best, but she can use her fingertips.
  6. Avoid using  too much water, and let dry.

Your child might want to do all her rings of one color of marker, to repeatedly confirm the hidden colors within.  She might want to review what she already knows about colors, like whether orange magic markers contain yellow and red ink.  She might also want to compare different brands of markers.  The hidden colors in one brand’s of black are quite different than others. If your child’s imagination is sparked by the rainbow of hidden colors, she can cut out green stems and leaves and make her science experiment into flowers.