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ink chromatology butterflies

Science Experiment for Kids: Ink Chromatology Butterflies

These chromatology butterflies are lots of fun to make and a good demonstration of how the ink in most felt-tip pens contains a mixture of different colors. Most kids are used to mixing colors with paints or play dough, but have your children had the chance to try separating color mixtures? In this science experiment for kids, we explored chromatography (separating mixtures) using coffee filters to separate the various pigments in markers to see how each color was created.

chromatology butterflies

Supplies:  Coffee filters, Mr. Sketch markers, pencil, pipe cleaners and cups with water.

chromatology butterflies

Step 1:  Draw a thick circle on each coffee filter.  Use a different color on each one.  Write in the center of each circle the color or the marker in pencil.

Step 2:  Fill cups of water three-fourths of the way.

chromatology butterflies

Step 3:  Fold each coffee filter in half and then half again to make a cone shape. Make sure the center of your circle

chromatology butterflies

chromatology butterflies

Step 4:  Gently put the filter in the water but make sure only the tip of the cone is touching the water.  Be sure NOT to let the marker circle go in the water, just the uncolored tip of the coffee filter coneWait and watch as the color moves up the coffee filter.

chromatology butterflies

Step 5:  Take the filters out, unfold them, and let them dry.

chromatology butterflies


Step 6: Then twist a pipe cleaner around the filter to make a butterfly.

chromatology butterflies

This method is used to identify which pen was used to write a letter/note at a crime scene.  Every brand of pen has a different layering of colors to get their final product!  The black marker had layers of orange, pink, blue, brown and only a tip of black on the end!

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