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ACTIVITY in Observations, Solubility. Last updated July 25, 2023.


In this activity, students will investigate solubility by using a combination of washable markers and permanent ink to color a paper flower. The petals of the flower will be folded, and then placed in a shallow dish of water. Students will be intrigued by the outcome as they observe several changes occur. Using their knowledge of several fundamental chemistry topics, student will explain their observations using evidence and modeling.

Grade Level

Middle School and Elementary School

NGSS Alignment

This activity will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Developing and Using Models
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence


By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • Explain that some inks are water soluble, while others are not water soluble.
  • Describe on a basic level that solubility depends on the types of particles that make up the substance(s).
  • Understand fundamental chemistry terms including mixture, solubility, soluble, insoluble, miscible, concentration, diffusion.
  • Provide a simple definition for the process of diffusion and provide an everyday example of it.
  • Create a model based on observations.

Chemistry Topics

This activity supports students’ understanding of:

  • Solubility
  • Diffusion
  • Observations


Teacher Preparation: 10-15 minutes
Lesson: 45 minutes


  • 2-3 Paper Flower Cut-Outs (use printer paper)
    • Template available for download in the sidebar
    • Precut shapes can be purchased at art/craft stores
  • Black marker/pen, “permanent” ink
  • Various colors of washable, water-based markers or pens
  • Scissors
  • Small plastic plates to hold swallow amount of water (white preferred)
  • Water
  • Pitcher/cup
  • Timer
  • Paper towel


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This activity was inspired by and modified with permission from the 2023 ChemClub Middle School Art & Chemistry Resource Packet. It was developed as a way for young students to visually observe the concept of solubility and diffusion.
  • A template has been provided for the paper flowers cut-outs. These should be printed on regular printer/copy paper. Card stock or heavy paper will not work for this activity. Depending on the age of the students, teachers could ask students to each cut 2-3 flowers for use in the activity.
  • Using pre-cut paper flowers will reduce the amount of preparation time needed for this activity, however it’s important to ensure that the pre-cut flowers are not made on card stock/heavy paper.
  • Small plastic plates can be used by each student in this activity. White plates will help to see the colorful results. If individual plates are unavailable, larger trays/bin can be shared between two students. Only a small amount of water is needed for the activity. The bottom of the plate or tray should be covered in water, the exact quantity used is not important.
  • Teachers should note that the water will need to be changed after each flower “blooms”. Much of the washable (colorful) ink from the flower will diffuse into the water. As the various ink colors mix, the water will turn brown/black. Results are best if fresh water is used frequently so that students can see the ink diffuse into the water. To help with this, premade cups of fresh water, or a pitcher of fresh water could be made available for easy refilling.
  • When coloring the flower, encourage students to use a lot of ink on each petal. Next, it’s important that the flower is folded so that the colored petals appear on the outside of the flower, not the inside.
  • During the activity, students will observe that the washable (colorful ink) will easily mix (dissolve in) with water. First, the ink will diffuse through the paper to the white side of the flower, making it colorful. The black ink (or any permanent ink) used will remain on the paper flower and will not transfer into the water. As time passes, the colorful ink will also diffuse into the water on the plate creating a colorful pattern.
  • In the modeling section (analysis question #2), encourage student to use symbols, arrows, and descriptions to visually describe what has happened after 2-minutes, and after 10-minutes.
  • Refer to the Answer Key document for additional details and examples of student responses.
  • Expected results at 2-minutes and 10 minutes are shown below:

For the Student


Below are some chemistry terms that will be helpful to review prior to this activity:

  • Mixtures: A combination of two or more substances.
  • Solubility: Ability of a substance to be dissolved in a solvent (often it is water).
  • Soluble: A substance is soluble if it dissolves in the solvent.
    • Particles in a mixture are “alike” if they are soluble.
  • Insoluble: A substance is insoluble if it does not dissolve in the solvent.
    • Particles in a mixture are not “alike” if they are insoluble.
  • Miscible: A term to describe when separate liquids mix together completely.
  • Concentration: The amount of substance. High concentrations mean a large amount of substance, while low concentrations mean a little amount of substance.
  • Diffusion: The movement of particles from a high concentration area to a low concentration area.


  1. Can you think of two liquids that don’t mix well together when they are combined? If needed, talk to a classmate to generate an idea. Provide an example and explain it below:
  2. Why do you think some liquids mix together completely (they are miscible), while other liquids do not? Record your ideas below:
  3. Can you think of an example of diffusion from everyday life? If needed, talk to a classmate to generate an idea, and describe it below:


  • Paper Flower Cut-Outs
  • Black permanent ink marker
  • Washable, colorful water-based markers
  • Scissors
  • Paper towel
  • Bowl, plates, or tray
  • Water
  • Timer


  1. Cut out a paper flower or choose a pre-cut design.
  2. Color one side of the paper flower with the washable (colorful) markers. Use a lot of ink (color a petal more than once with a certain color). Leave the other side of the paper flower white/blank.
  3. Then use the black permanent ink marker to add details to the areas of the flower that have been colored.
  4. Fold the flower petals inward so that the colored petals are seen on the outside of the flower.
  5. Place the flower face up in a shallow plate or tray filled with water.
  6. Start a timer. Observe. Begin recording observations in the sections below.
  7. You will sketch your observations at 2-minutes, and at 10-minutes in the space below. It might be helpful to repeat the procedure with a second flower.


  1. Record your observations in the table below:

Describe what happened to the flower when placed in water:
Describe what happened to the colorful ink on the flower when the flower was placed in water:
Describe what happened to the black permanent ink when the flower was placed in water:
  1. Using color and description model what you observed during the activity below:


  1. What can be said about the solubility of the colorful marker ink in water?
  2. Do you think your answer to #1 means that the ink particles are attracted to water molecules or not?
  3. What can be said about the solubility of the black permanent marker ink in water?
  4. Do you think your answer to #3 means that the ink particles are attracted to water molecules or not?
  5. Describe when the process of diffusion was seen in this activity. Use the word “concentration” in your answer.
  6. If a dry, blank paper flower was placed in water that had just been used with a colorful flower for this activity, what would you predict might happen to the flower?