Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easy Science Experiment

Today (9/19/11) we did an easy science lesson on chromatography. (Fancy word right?) Basically chromatography is a way of separating mixtures of different chemicals. For example, pen inks are often made up of a range of different colors.

I cut up several paper towels. (I've read coffee filters work great too.) Then Katie and I colored pea sized dots in various colors toward the bottom of the paper towel strip.  I put about a half inch of water in a cup and then we taped the strips to the top making sure the ink did not touch the water but that the bottom of the paper towel did.  Then we watched as the water climbed up the paper towel and separated the ink into different colors. Obviously we were able to see the most colors come from black and brown. We also saw colors separate from purple and grey.  We used this as a chance to talk about primary colors (red, blue and yellow: colors cannot be mixed from or formed by combining any other colors, and they are the basis for making most other colors.)  We even used primary colors in the experiment to demonstrate that we most likely would see no other colors.  There is the possibility of seeing another color but that is if it was not a true blue, yellow or red color.

After we saw what happened with each color I had Katie tell me what other colors she saw come from our dots.  She wrote these colors on a sheet I made.  You can print one here

I want to do the experiment again because 1) Katie really seemed to enjoy it and 2) I can make sure Katie grasps the idea of primary colors.
I also thought it would be fun to have her solve some sort of mystery when doing the experiment.  Read more about that here.

*If you do this make sure to use a separate container for each color.
Here is another way to do the experiment.

My happy homeschooler! 

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