Sunday, April 25, 2010

Black Ink Chromatography

Chromatography is a technique scientists use to separate mixtures, especially those in pigments.  Today you can discover what’s in black ink.

Ages: All ages of Kid Scientists will enjoy this activity.  For questions and extensions, download a Lab Report.

Materials:  A variety of black markers, coffee filter or white paper napkin, clear cups, water

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  • Cut the napkin or coffee filter into strips 1/4”  wide
  • Draw a dot with the black marker on the bottom of a filter strip, making sure there is about 2 cm of paper below the dot

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  • Pour a small amount of water into the bottom of each cup
  • Place the filter strip into the cup, being careful to keep the dot out of the water

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  • Observe what happens
  • Find a way to share your results

For Mom’s Eyes Only: Some Kid Scientists may choose to use a permanent black pen.  When they run the chromatography investigation nothing will happen, because permanent marker isn’t soluble in water.  Under your supervision, they may replace the water with rubbing alcohol, a solvent that will separate the permanent ink. 

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