Monthly Archives: March 2015

Chromatography

The crux of this week’s activity was looking at the movement of ink in markers up a sheet of chromatography paper due to capillary action when put in water and seeing how it separated.

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It was a really great activity because the girls got to experiment in any way they wanted to. They used different colors and types of markers, made interesting designs, put them in different parts of the paper, etc. They were really able to notice a lot of differences too. They saw that each color was made up of different colors, some colors moved faster than other colors, and the permanent marker ink didn’t move at all.

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Divya also finished up the activity with a really clever demonstration to help them to understand what was happening. She had one of the girls push a chair and Divya pushed a much larger table across the room. The girl made it across way before Divya did and Divya asked the girls why that happened. One of them said the chair is lighter. Divya then asked which color ink would make it to the top of the sheet first and why. They were immediately able to connect that the lighter ink would move up the sheet faster, which is the basic premise of chromatography, which is in turn the crux of an incredible amount of our analytical methods to date, which is why it is awesome that they understand it.

My favorite part of the day was definitely watching two of the girls take this picture:
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The girl on the right has always been really interested. She got her friend to come in and help her run a bunch of different designs and then made this awesome collage. I feel like having the girls take selfies with science is definitely a win 🙂

Quote of the day:
Girl: “Let it up, let it up”
Mentor: “You know you’re doing something right when the girls quote Frozen.”

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