Chromatography for Kids

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.

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