Chromatography Butterflies

This is a wonderful activity we did at the centre a couple weeks ago and thought we would share here. It is great for Spring and for incorporating into a metamorphosis educational theme.

Materials Needed:

  1. Coffee filters
  2. Non-permanent markers
  3. Small jars
  4. Water
  5. Pipe cleaners
  6. Pencil


  • Draw a thick circle with your marker around the middle of the coffe filter (make sure to do it on top of another surface like newspaper to protect the table).
  • Write the colour of the marker in pencil in the centre.
  • Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again.
  • Get a short glass of water or water in a jar, balance the coffee filter so that only the tip is touching the centre, not the part with the marker.
  • Let it sit and watch what happens as the water begins to flow up the paper.
  • Once satisfied with the spread of the colour take the filters out and let dry.
  • To turn these into butterflies, wrap the centres with a piece of pipe cleaner.

And there you have it! Chromatography butterflies! Include a discussion of metamorphosis and of colour mixing to take the activity a step further.



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