In this STEAM activity kids will have the opportunity to explore the science of chromatography, a super fun exploration in color separation that kids of all ages always enjoy. When they are finished with the science experiment, children can turn their results into chromatography art projects. This post includes variations for kid of all ages!
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Have you ever explored chromatography with your kids or students? It’s one of the coolest science experiments, and kids always get so excited about the results. (Be sure to check out our chromatography butterfly art project using coffee filters if you haven’t already! These are perfect for spring and fun to do as a class.)
What is chromatography? It’s the separation of a mixture by passing a solution through a medium. In this case, we’ll be separating the colored ink in markers with water using chromatography strips.
And the project doesn’t end there! Once the kids have finished their science exploration, they’ll turn their final product into a chromatography art project. Older kids can create a woven art project, while younger kids can create a colorful collage.
See it in action here:
Chromatography Art Project for Kids
Materials for Chromatography Art Project
- Chromatography paper strips
- Small binder clips
- Plastic cups (I like cups like these that are a bit shorter and wider, making it less likely to tip over and spill. We got ours at our local household store.)
- Markers (We’ve had the best success with Mr. Sketch markers.)
- Newspaper or paper grocery bag
- Black cardstock or construction paper
Exploring the Science of Chromatography
Here’s how to use chromatography to see what colors are mixed together to make various colors of marker ink!
2. Do this with each color marker you’d like to try out. (You can also use a pencil to lightly write the name of the color marker you used on the strip so, when you’re finished, you’ll know which strip started out as each color.)
4. Carefully place the bottom of your chromatography strip along the inside of the cup until it just goes into the water. (You do not want the marker line to touch the water.) Clip it into place with your binder clip. Do this with each of your strips.
5. Observe the water slowly work its way up the chromatography strip, separating the colors of ink used in the marker.
6. Once the water has reached the top of the strip, remove it from the cup and place it on newspaper or a brown grocery bag to dry.
7. Look closely at each strip. Which colors of ink made up the each marker color?
Creating Chromatography Artwork
Once you’re done with your chromatography science activity, you can use the colored strips to create artwork! Older kids can create a woven piece of art, while younger children might enjoy creating a collage with the strips.
Directions for the Woven Artwork
- Cut a piece of black construction paper or cardstock to 7 inches x 7 inches.
- Line up 7 strips of paper onto your black square and lightly tape into place.
- Use 7 additional strips to weave your pattern.
- Once you’ve finished weaving, gently remove the tape.
- Turn your woven piece over and place glue on the back. Glue it onto your black square.
Display your woven chromatography art project! They really pop when displayed as a whole set of multiple woven pieces!
Directions for Collage Artwork
- Cut your strips into smaller pieces. (This is great scissor skill practice for children.)
- Give each child a 5 inch x 5 inch piece of black construction paper or cardstock.
- Invite your child to glue their cut pieces onto the black square of paper. Children might choose to do rows or just create a collage of mixed shapes overlapping.
- Display your artwork!
Even More STEM and STEAM Activities
This post is part of the 28 Days of STEM and STEAM Activities for Kids series. Be sure to head over and check out all the other creative ways to encourage a love of science, technology, engineering, art and math in kids!
Be sure to check out our STEAM Kids book and ebook for even more creative STEM and STEAM ideas!