Design a Chromatography Experiment

Today we were chemists and used paper chromatography to investigate the pigments used in making different colors and brands of markers. Each pair of students selected a color to test and compared the different mixtures of dyes used in different brands.

Paper chromatography is a separation technique in which dots of pigment (in our case, marker ink) are placed on special filter paper, and the paper is then placed into a solvent. We used salt water as the solvent, and as the solvent traveled up the paper, it dissolved the dots of ink and carried them along with it. Since several of the inks were made of a mixture of different colors, or pigments, the colors spread out on the paper because each pigment has different affinity to the paper. At the end of the experiment, we took the papers out of the solvent, examined our chromatograms, and tried to answer our original questions using our chromatography data. Some classes may have had time to do a follow-up experiment!

If your student enjoyed marker chromatography, we recommend you try our Candy Chromatography Extension activity too!

Or for something natural, how about this leaf chromatography activity: 

Diseñando un Experimento de Cromatografía

Hoy fuimos químicos y utilizamos la cromatografía en papel para investigar los pigmentos utilizados en la fabricación de diferentes colores y marcas de marcadores. ¡Cada par de estudiantes decidieron sobre una pregunta que querían investigar y diseñaron su propio experimento de cromatografía en papel!

La cromatografía de papel es una técnica de separación en la que se colocan puntos de pigmento (en nuestro caso, tinta de marcador) en un papel de filtro especial, y el papel se coloca en un solvente. Usamos agua salada como solvente y, a medida que el solvente viajaba por el papel, disolvió los puntos de tinta y los llevó consigo. Dado que varias de las tintas estaban hechas de una mezcla de diferentes colores, o pigmentos, los colores se extendieron en el papel porque cada pigmento tiene una afinidad diferente al papel. Al final del experimento, sacamos los papeles del solvente, examinamos nuestros cromatogramas y tratamos de responder nuestras preguntas originales utilizando nuestros datos cromatográficos. ¡Algunas clases pueden haber tenido tiempo para hacer un experimento de seguimiento!

Si su estudiante disfrutó de la cromatografía de marcadores, le recomendamos que pruebe nuestra actividad de Extensión de cromatografía de dulces también.

O para algo natural, ¿qué tal esta actividad de cromatografía de hojas? Https://

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Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

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