Skip to main content


Activity Summary
Students separate photosynthetic pigments using paper chromatography to explore how photosynthesis works. Students place extracted plant pigments onto a strip of chromatography paper, the stationary phase, and submerge one end of the paper in a solvent, the mobile phase. The distance that each plant pigment moves upward with the solvent front is due to its affinity to the stationary or mobile phase.

Grade Levels

Learning Objectives
1. Explain how chromatography works
2. List some real-world applications of chromatography
3. Describe the function of photosynthetic pigments and explain why each has a different color

Lesson Materials (view or download)
Lesson Plans
stationary phase, mobile phase, affinity

Last updated: 3/4/2015