STEAM Saturday – Chromatography Butterflies! (4/15/2023)

Get ready to learn, explore and create with this spring project!  Our STEAM experiment this week allows kids to explore the science of chromatography (the science of separating the components of a mixture) while making a beautiful butterfly craft!  This activity can be done with young kids or even teenagers.  Challenge them to create their own hypothesis and record the results!

Do you drink a lot of coffee?  Perfect, you should have all the materials you will need for this fun activity right at home!

Here’s what you will need:

  • Markers (Do NOT use permanent markers)
  • Coffee filters (White)
  • Pencil
  • Cups of water (Try to use small cups little glass jars with smaller openings)
  • Pipe cleaners (Black is recommended, but any color you have will work)
  • String
  • Scissors

First, flatten a few coffee filters.  Then have your kids pick out different color markers and draw a thick circle in the center of each coffee filter.  Take your pencil and write the name of the color that you used on each one.  Make sure you use a pencil, so the words do not smear.  Fold your coffee filter in half, and then in half again to turn it into a cone shape.  Then fill your cups halfway with room temperature water.

Next, place your cones into the water so the tip of the coffee filter touches the water.  Let’s watch what happens as the filter soaks up the water!  You will see that, as the water moves up the filter, it will start to separate the original solid color into the colors that it is made up of!

Let your coffee filters dry so you can make a butterfly craft!  Grab your pipe cleaner and cut it in half.  Take the filter and scrunch it up in the middle and wrap the pipe cleaner around the center.  Shape the filter to form butterfly wings and make your pipe cleaners look like antennae’s!  If you would like to watch your butterfly “fly”, then take a piece of string and tie it to the middle of your butterfly and hang it up!

Spark curiosity and critical thinking by asking questions throughout the experiment.  What colors do you see?  How many colors do you see?  Which one is your favorite and why?  Let them explore and create other craft activities with their colorful butterflies!

See the full experiment and the science behind it from Buggy and Buddy HERE.

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together!

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve!

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