Chromatography Butterfly

Category: STEM, 6YR+, 7YR+, 8YR+, Chemistry, Chromatography, Colors

Source: Buggy & Buddy

GOAL: Explore chromatography using coffee filters and markers!


  • Non permanent markers

  • White coffee filters

  • Pencil

  • Cups of water

  • Black pipe cleaners

  • String

  • Scissors


1. Choose one marker to experiment with first

2. Put one coffee filter  on a newspaper or some kind of material to protect your table. Draw a thick circle around the center of the coffee filter where the ridged part meets the flat center.

3. Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again, resulting in a cone shape.

4. Get a short glass of water. Pull apart the cone shaped coffee filter so it balances right on the glass with the tip of the cone just touching the water. (Be sure NOT to let the marker circle go in the water, just the uncolored tip of the coffee filter cone.)

5. Let it sit and watch what happens as the water begins to flow up the paper.

6. Repeat with different colored markers.

7. After the water has reached the outer edge of the coffee filter, place it on a newspaper to dry.

8. Cut your black pipe cleaners in half.

9. Take one coffee filter and scrunch it up in the middle.

10. Wrap a black pipe cleaner around the center.

11. Shape the ends to form antennae.

12. Tie a string to the center and hang!



Teach basic chemistry concepts, and learn about how colors

can be separated through the process of chromatography!