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Show Your Colors!

Source Institutions

    Smithsonian National Zoological Park

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Show Your Colors!

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.

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
    • 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


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