Chemistry Is Colorful

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In "Chemistry is Colorful" learners explore different materials through paper chromatography. This process highlights the properties of different pigments blended together in a marker by creating a colorful chromatogram. Can participants solve the mystery of which ink came from which marker? Activity includes a facilitation guide with potential misconceptions, relevant science infosheets with real-world connections, table sign, and activity training video. All public-facing materials also available in Spanish.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
2 to 4 hours

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • Filter paper disks (2 per participant)
  • Primary and secondary colored Vis-à-vis brand markers
  • Three different brands of black water-soluble markers (Crayola, Mr Sketch, and Vis-à-vis)
  • 2-ounce dropper bottles (2–3, filled with water)
  • 3 small white lids (to hold the paper off the table)
  • Hole punch
  • Colorful yarn or string cut into 6-inch lengths
  • Scissors
  • Mystery Chromatograms graphic
  • Tape (for the premade mystery chromatograms)
  • Dry-erase maker (for the mystery chromatograms graphic)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 1612482