At The STEM Shoppe this week, we experimented with chromatography! Chromatography can be defined as, “a technique used to separate mixtures of chemical compounds or biomolecules based on differences in their relative affinities for mobile (gas or liquid) and stationary (solid or liquid) phases” (nature.com). We learned how to isolate the different components in marker ink and were able to see all of the different colors that are mixed into a single marker. Thanks to chromatography, each snowflake was unique and colorful!
Watching the liquid climb up the paper and the color spread led to fascinating discoveries in this observational experiment. At The STEM Shoppe, we ask questions and try to discover the answers: “How does the water climb the paper?” “Why does the blue ink spread farther than the red ink?” “What would happen if we used a different liquid?” With a little bit of research, and a lot of experimenting, we discover new things and understand our world a bit better.
Chromatography can also be used to separate and isolate organic compounds. Recently, researchers Zhenru Tao and Juan Liu published an article on Scientific Reports explaining their work with chromatography that allowed them to synthesise and isolate a naturally occurring, but rare substance, Prenylated flavonols. This substance has shown promising results in combating cancer. Read the article at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-12640-9
Discovering and experimenting with the scientific technique, chromatography, at a young age exposes our students to the thrill of discovering something new, and the possibilities of incredible work in the future! The hands on snowflake activity gives children a visual understanding of the science, and a colorful token of their hard work!
To find out more about what we do here at the STEM Shoppe, visit our website at www.TheStemShoppe.com.