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360Science™: Chromatography of a Dye Mixture

By: The Flinn Scientific Staff

360Science™ blends the best of student-engaging digital content with easily adaptable hands-on labs to offer your students a uniquely comprehensive learning experience.

In this lab experience, students investigate the factors that influence the separation of food dyes using paper chromatography. The results shed light on the connection between structure and mobility of food dyes within the solvent (eluent) and the adsorbent phases (chromatography paper). Editable, differentiated instructions range from a time-sensitive prescriptive lab to full open inquiry, and robust online videos and content—including a virtual reality (VR) simulation—help students prepare for and better understand the labs they’re conducting.

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360Science™: Chromatography of a Dye Mixture
 Chromatography, retention times, intermolecular forces, food chemistry
Outcomes: Students will conduct chromatography analyses of a food dye mixture using paper strips as the adsorbent substrate and solutions of sodium chloride or 2-propanol as the eluent or developing solvent. They will observe the separation of the coloring mixture into its original components (i.e., Red No. 40, Blue No. 1 and Yellow No. 5) as distinct dye spots travel on the paper strips. In the guided, advanced and open-inquiry versions, students will recognize that aqueous sodium chloride yields better separation of the dye mixture than a 2-propanol solution. In general, they will observe that decreasing the concentration of sodium chloride in the eluent improves the separation resolution that is the distance between the dyes’ spots on the chromatography paper.
Associated Phenomena: How do we know what are the components of a food coloring mixture? 

Our 1-year option provides access to all digital content for one year plus lab supplies for a single class of 30 students. Our 3-year option extends access to digital content to three years, with a 30% discount on refill supply kits years 2 and 3.

What is Flinn 360Science™?
We’re introducing a whole new way to teach experiential science! We’ve taken a hard look at science study from all perspectives and, thanks to the feedback of thousands of teachers nationwide, we’ve created a way to make it easier to provide personalized instruction while delivering the kind of lab experiences your students truly need.

Our new and comprehensive learning solutions are designed to bring science to life by giving you all the tools you need to incorporate more (and effective) hands-on learning in your classroom or lab. 360Science allows you to provide your students with the support they need to make real-world connections to key scientific principles and help make those abstract concepts concrete.

Every 360Science lab solves the most common challenges educators face in bringing more hands-on science to their students—from not having enough time to matching the right level of challenge for students’ abilities to providing appropriate background content, safety techniques, assessments and more.

Enable student-driven, blended learning through a unique combination of leveled lab instructions supporting prescriptive, guided- and open-inquiry lab exercises (see PDF resource for specific details) with robust digital content, such as videos and carefully curated Open Educational Resources (OER)—along with virtual reality and simulation exercises. From editable, digital instructions to assessments and alignment with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), we have everything you need to improve mastery, remove the intimidation factor and foster your students’ natural curiosity.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-PS1.A. Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS2.B. Types of Interactions

Crosscutting Concepts


Performance Expectations

HS-PS1-3: Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.