Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Twelve Days of Science! Day 1: Candy Chromatography!

On the first day of Christmas Science, my mommy made with me....

Candy Chromatography!

Happy Holidays!
CC: Flickr User Christina Rutz 

I'm always looking for a great way to incorporate fun educational activities with what we're doing, and the holidays are no exception! To that end, we've decided to do a feature on The Twelve Days of Science! Every day, I'll be sharing a new holiday themed science project that you can do with your kids! We'll have Santa Sleigh races, we'll light up Rudolph's nose, we'll make fossilized ornaments, and we'll be growing our own ornament crystals! This is just some of the stuff we'll be doing, we have so many great things coming up, I can't wait to share them with you! 

Since today is the first of our Twelve Days of Science, here's the first project! Thanks to Instructables for having such a great tutorial!

A dazzling display of rainbow colored lights!

Materials Needed:

1. Skittles

2. White Coffee Filter paper
3. Water
4. Aluminum Foil (or plastic wrap, something to put the skittles on)
5. Salt
6. Toothpicks/Wooden Skewers
7. Pen
8. Shallow saucer/bowl
9. Scissors


1.Take your finger and dab 2-3 drops of water, evenly spaced, along your foil/plastic wrap. 

2. Set one color of skittles on top of each drop of water and let sit for approximately one minute

3. Pick up the skittles and set them aside. 

4. Prepare your coffee filter paper! You'll need an approximately 3X3" square piece of filter paper. 

5. Approximately 1/2 inch from the bottom, mark where you would like your skittles to go. We made ours look like Christmas lights!

6. Take your toothpicks/wooden skewers and, using one for each color, dab a drop on to your filter paper. After you've gone through each color, let dry and apply another drop. Do this about 3-4 times to get a rich color. 

7. Prepare your salt water solution! Take a cup of water and add about 1/4 tsp of salt. Mix thoroughly! 

8. Pour just enough water into your shallow saucer to cover the bottom. 

9. Gently hold your filter paper so that the salt water solution will just barely touch the bottom. Watch as capillary action takes place to draw the water up the filter!

What's Happening? 

The salt water solution creates a mobile phase, which allows the water to move up through capillary action. The salt interacts with the electric charges in the color molecules and draws them out of the water and up the filter!

The filter is used as a stationary phase, and is what is used as something for the capillary action to occur on. 

It's really interesting to see the colors separate as they climb up the filter paper. You'll see reds and blues in the purple skittle drop, and greens and yellows in the yellow skittle drop! 

What other colors can YOU see as you make your holiday chromatography?

Try this with skittles, M&Ms, Candy Canes, and any other colorful candy coated treat you can find during the holidays! Which candies give the best results? Which candies are best left eaten and enjoyed? Be sure to share your results in the comments below! And as always...


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