Spring Flowers Chromatography Project is a science inspired arts and crafts project that teaches color theory and the results are beautiful flowers.
I live in Canada, which means we still have winter in April, but I have to believe that spring is coming! And hopefully soon! We are very tired of the grey and cold of winter. So while we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring I came up with this beautiful flower project. This very easy science experiment and craft project is perfect for preschool through third grade.
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Spring Flowers Chromatography was inspired by a science lesson we did at our science center. I love that our science center offers homeschool lessons for our kids. My youngest was doing a class on colors and one of the projects involved doing chromatography. I haven’t done chromatography since I was a child, but once I saw the results I knew we could create something really beautiful for spring.
Kids love mixing colors and learning how to combine colors to discover amazing new results. But what about separating colors? Pulling colors apart to see what colors came together to create a color. Now separating your child’s mixed up paint colors, slime or play dough, isn’t going to happen, but through a special scientific process called chromatography, you can split colors into their original hues.
This simple experiment was the perfect rainy day project and the results left me with gorgeous flowers I can place all over my house to brighten it up.
All you need for this project is:
Water soluble markers
Cup or container
This project is so fun and fast. A great project to do in the classroom to fill it with beautiful spring flowers!
To start, smooth out the coffee filter so it is fairly flat.
Now use water soluble markers to make a circle about 1.5 to 2″ in diameter. You do not need to be exact. This is an art project too, so creativity is encouraged!
This activity works the best if you use secondary and tertiary colours, as they will separate as they spread, creating gorgeous patterns on your paper.
Now fold up the coffee filter so it comes to a point and place it point side down into a glass with a bit of water. You don’t need much water.
Alternatively, you can leave the filter flat on a plate, and add a teaspoon of water to the middle of the filter. Sometimes this approach makes it easier to see the colours appear, which some kids prefer. Both approaches work! You could also try spraying it with a bottle of water.
Let the filter soak up the water and watch what happens as it meets the coloured circle.
Once the colours have travelled enough, remove the filter from the water and let it dry on a paper towel.
Once dry, grab the middle of the filter, twist it and wrap a pipe cleaner around it to create your flower.
Chromatography is the process of separating mixtures. In this project our mixture is the ink in our markers and we are separating it into other colours that make up the colour. As the coffee filter absorbs water through capillary action, the ink moves through the filter and is separated by the water into other colors. Depending on which colour you started with, you will see different colours appear thanks to Chromatography.
Try different colours to see how your results change. What if you draw different designs? How does it affect your results?
More Chromatography Projects
We took this project and created an exciting version with circuits for our older students. The results were truly stunning and our Circuit Flowers were even featured by Good Housekeeping!
For even more Chromatography projects, including a different Chromatography flower, Butterflies plus an Earth Day version, check out this Chromatography STEAM project.
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