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In this activity (page 3 of the PDF), learners will observe a physical change. They will be astounded to find out that pens and markers of a seemingly single color can actually be made of multiple colors. Though this activity is included as a pre-visit activity for a workshop about physical and chemical changes, it also is an excellent stand-alone activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • coffee filters or chromatography papers
  • wide variety of water soluble/felt tipped black pens, markers
  • shallow containers or many paper towels
  • paper towels
  • water
  • rulers
  • scissors
  • dropper or pipette (if desired)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Sunlight and Color

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access