Erlenmeyer flasks filled with red, yellow, and blue solutions of food coloring and water
5 drops of food coloring per 200 mL (25 per 1L)
3 x 25 mL Graduated Cylinders
3 x 10 mL Graduated Cylinders
beaker filled with clean water
large beaker for used water
this activity took 2x 50 minute class periods
This lab is an updated version of the classic Rainbow Lab (link) that has been around since the 80’s (Measuring Liquid Volume with a Graduated Cylinder 1988). I used this for many years with my 5th graders, and previously with my 6th graders in the early 2000’s. Now that I am teaching 6th grade again, I wanted to make it more open ended and challenging. The purpose of the original version of the lab was twofold: First – could they follow directions carefully to make a rainbow? Second – how precisely can they measure liquid volume?
For the new version of this lab, I created new objectives and assessed the students based on their problem solving, collaboration, and measuring skills.
Students will be able to precisely measure liquids with a graduated cylinder
Students will be able to create their own lab procedures using the given parameters to guide them
Students will create new mixtures and solutions
Students will be able to record accurate data
Students will collaborate and problem solve to achieve a common goal
Students will test, evaluate, and select the best proportions to create the colors orange, green, and purple
each group made 3-4 different combinations for each color and had to, as a group, determine which combinations of primary colors created the best secondary colors
Students will follow proper lab procedures to avoid color contamination
Students will record and analyze data from the whole grade and compare their findings to the averages from each group, what patterns or trends did they notice in the data?
Students will create their own ‘designer’ color and share it with the class
this was fun way to wrap up the activity, we had a ‘fashion’ show with each group coming up to the front of the room to showcase their newly created and named colors
if time allowed, at the end we made a rainbow with each student holding their test tube and standing next to a person who had a color similar to their own, from Red to Purple
Note: I modified this lesson to add a hands-on component with the addition of task cards that students can sort at their desks. I use this lesson as a group work activity to introduce Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures.
Each group will have one set of task cards and one set of ECM? cards to hold up.
Students will sort the items pictured into 4 columns: Elements, Compounds, Mixtures, and “?”. (The “?” category is a temporary place holder for students to discuss further within their group, all items should be sorted before answers are revealed)
Once all the groups have had a chance to discuss and sort the items, we will go over the answers as a class.
Using the ppt, show the first item (Rocks). Ask each group to choose one of the E,C, or M cards.
Have them place the “?” in front of their answer. (this prevents the other groups from seeing their answer) A spokesperson for each group will stand up and hold the ECM? cards.
Ask all the groups to reveal their answer at the same time. Compare answers & discuss.
Reveal the answer and have students record the results in their notes.
If needed, have students move the card to the correct category on their desk, too.
For fun, I award a point to each group that has a correct answer, the kids enjoy a little friendly competition :).