STREAM Activity: Rainbow Bridge

Observe what happens when color meets liquid!

Activity best for children ages 2 and up

Chromatography is a way that we can separate chemicals or mixtures. This makes it easy to see and identify different substances that can be part of any mixture. This scientific technique is very useful when we want to make observations and study what something is made up of.

We, too, can become scientists and make some observations by conducting our own chromatography experiment. Making observations is an important skill in learning. Noticing changes or things that remain the same during an experiment can help us answer questions and learn more about something. Today, we will be conducting a Rainbow Bridge experiment! We will be drawing our own rainbow and will observe what happens to the colors when it meets liquid.

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Paper towel

Washable markers

2 cups or glasses of water

Scissors (if needed)

Guiding Questions:

Do the colors move slow or fast?

Do all the colors move at the same speed?

Do you notice any colors mixing together?


Step 1

Take one piece of a paper towel and fold it over (lengthwise). Measure it and make sure it is no longer than 7 inches.

If the paper towel is too long, the colors may not be able to travel completely.

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Step 2

Color in rectangles in different colors of the rainbow. Be sure to color them thoroughly or the colors will not disperse.

Do this for both ends of the paper towel.

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Step 3

Dip the ends of the paper towel into water. Do not submerge the ends too deep.

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Step 4

Make observations with the colors on the paper towel.

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Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connections

“Ada Twist Scientist” by Andrea Beaty

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Science Connections

Chromatography is a technique commonly used in the world of science. It’s important to identify and observe different chemicals that need to be used or studied. Scientists use these techniques like these a lot during their experiments and studies.