Resistance is Useful

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Learners write or draw with white crayon on white paper. They look and feel to detect their marks on the paper. Then, learners paint over their paper with watercolor paint. The paint wets the paper except in the areas of the crayon marks, thereby revealing their writing or drawing. Learners discover that the wax resisted the colored paint because wax and water are not miscible, they don't mix together. Extensions of the activity show learners fabrics which are dyed using a wax-resist process called batik. This activity is currently used in the Nature of Matter and Everyday Chemistry Units in OMSI's Chemistry Lab. Cost estimates are per 100 learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • paper samples- cut pieces about 2” square (keep ~100 on hand)
  • white crayons (keep 10-12 on hand)
  • watercolor paints
  • foam “brushes”
  • ~ 250 ml beaker
  • waste container
  • small plastic beaker


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions

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:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation