gator science

active adventures in lower school science

Solving the Dinosaur Mystery using Chromatography

on January 31, 2014

Students in fifth grade have been experimenting with chromatography in the lab.  Our first lesson involved a mystery of a stolen dinosaur.  I ransom note was written with a blank pen and students used chromatography to separate the unique colors in the ink.   Students also used chromatography to separate the ink found in six different pens from 6 suspects.  (the suspects were siblings and classmates all with convincing alibis)  Students could match the chromatogram colors that matched the ransom note with one of the pens to find the suspect.   We discussed the limitations in using just this evidence to solve the crime.

The second class period we made a model of a chromatogram using a fan and objects with different densities.  Students began to understand that some pigments may travel faster up the filter paper than others because of their chemistry or density.   We tested different colored markers and found the ink from Sharpies did not separate when added to the water.   Next class we will continue to draw our own models of what is happening on the chromatogram.   Students were interested in using different solvents and different mediums in making a chromatogram.  We will test these out next week in class.

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