Tried and True: Extending paper chromatography inquiryby: Kevin Finson

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With some ingenuity and forethought, teachers can make simple modifications to a standard paper chromatography lesson that will improve student interest and extend inquiry learning. After separating the components of a water-soluble marker, students can collect, record, graph, and analyze quantitative data about their chromatograms.

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Reviews (5)
  • on Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:46 AM

Using a traditional paper chromatography activity, this lab extends the activity to form an inquiry lab that creates histograms of appearance of different (pattern) colors versus time for five different water based black pens. This extension has the students recording more data and can lead to further questions such as the mass of different colors of ink. This is more interesting than the traditional observational activity.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:05 AM
  • on Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:04 AM
  • on Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:34 PM

Chromatography is a long word and can be a complex process; however, it may also simple be done in any classroom, elementary through high school, to encourage students to ask pertinent questions and to explore the constituents of commonly found colored items, such as marking pens and food coloring. The jist of this article is to use this method of exploring to guide students to higher order levels of questing. I think it would also be important to have students to a small research project on the uses of chromatography in medicine and other testing situations. Encourage students to correlate simple separation on paper with gas chromatography and the early identification of agents to counteract cancer as well as to look at lipid research. This article gives the hesitant teacher excellent background.

Patricia  (Arlington, VA)
Patricia (Arlington, VA)

  • on Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:29 PM

This good article is about how to take chromatography beyond just watching the colors separate on a piece of filter paper. It gives several inquiry activities that can take the investigation to a higher level of thinking.

Betty  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty (Kansas City, MO)

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