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Grade 5

Writing with Colour

At school I would begin with an activity on primary colours..  I would pass out a piece of paper that had 3 circles  in a triangle.   I them passed out a few toothpicks and a dab of red , yellow and blue from  tubes of oil pastels.   The students would use the tooth picks to paint the primary colours in the three circles.  Then they were asked to mix the colours between the circles.  What colour do you get between the red and yellow Circles?




Text Box:   
                                                Chromatography  Experiment    Petite  Elementary
Place a primary colour in each circle.  Draw a circle between each of your circles.  Using a toothpick mix your primary colours.  For example  mix red and yellow in the circle you have drawn between those two circles. What colour do you get? 
Red  + Yellow  =      ______________
Red  + Blue  =          _____________
Blue + Yellow =       _____________

















Next we talked about taking the colours apart. 

We used coffee filters and markers. The markers must be water soluble.   We placed dots from secondary colours on the filters and allowed water to spread up the filter.  

For homework I gave each student a coffee filter but encouraged them to  try different types of paper like paper towels, napkins or newsprint. 

  We also discussed how a black marker should break down into many colours.

The next day we placed our homework on the bulletin board.


You could use this method to test Kool-Aid or m&ms to find out what kind of dye was being used.

 Imagine you are having friends over for a party. You plan on serving Kool-Aid but you know a friend is allergic to blue dye.  Use Q tips and paper towels to test 3 kinds of Kool-Aid for blue dye.


Would it be save to serve your friend Lemon Lime Kool-Aid?




 place dots from soluble markers on coffee filters or paper towel.


Place paper in water so that both dots are above water.


As water reaches the dot it dissolves and spreads the different dyes in the ink.


Place paper to dry and display.





A picture of a chemist using chromatography


Mikhail Tswett  Born May 14


1872; died 26 Jun 1919.
(Also: Tsvet) Russian botanist, the "father of chromatography," who developed and named the adsorption chromatography  technique of separating plant pigments by extracting them from leaves with ether and alcohol and percolating the solution through a column of calcium carbonate. The components of the mixture moved at different rates, producing a series of bands. He is known in particular for his study of the chlorophylls and the carotenoids. However, in Tswett's own lifetime, chromatography remained virtually unrecognized as a scientific tool. In the 1930s, it was rediscovered and then spread worldwide. The chromatography technique he invented is now widely used to separate substances from mixtures.



Web Sites


Black Magic   A very nice page on paper Chromatography by Exploratorium

Chromatography  with Leaves

Paper Chromatography

Candy Chromatography

Chromatography Experiments  

University of Missouri  Check out Christmas Chromatography




Thank you for visiting the Chromatography page. 

The last time I checked this page was  April 7   2010.

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Last updated: 01/02/13.