Here's what you'll need:
- Bowl of water
- Plain white paper towels, cut into strips
- 3 or more different markers, including black (non-primary colors work best)
When you have all your materials together, get started!
- Draw a wavy line an inch from the bottom of each towel strip, using different color markers on each one. Make sure you note which color is on which strip.
- Dip each strip in to the water so that the bottom edge of the paper towel is submerged, but not the line of marker ink. Hold the strip in place as the water creeps up the paper towel.
- The marker ink will spread, revealing the different types of dye that make up each color. The young minds around you will this it's magic!
The lesson here is that most colors are actually made up of several different colors or dyes. Science-ly speaking: as the paper towel draws the water out of the bowl, the water molecules bond with the different ink molecules and spread them. The process of separating these dyes is known as chromatography.
To make it really interesting, have your young scientist cover up their eyes while you draw a line on a fresh paper towel strip. Dip it in the water and, once the ink has spread, have them open their eyes and try to guess which marker you used!