Show Your Colors!

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In this family or group activity, learners conduct a chromatography experiment to reveal the colors that leaves "hide" under their green pigments. Use this experiment to predict what colors the leaves will "turn" in the fall. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover (acetone)
  • small glass jar
  • several green leaves from different trees
  • ruler or meter stick
  • marker
  • pencil
  • paper clip
  • paper coffee filter


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Seasons
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums


  • All rights reserved, Smithsonian National Zoological Park,

Funding Source:

  • FujiFilm