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Most colors are actually made up of several different dyes. As the paper towel draws the liquid out of the bowl, the water molecules bond with the different ink molecules and spread them. The process of separating these dyes (or the components of any mixture) is known as chromatography. You'll likely find that purple leaves a line of blue and a smear of red, and that green breaks up into blue and yellow. As for the black marker, don't be surprised if it's made of different blues -- and even red. To take the exploration further, have your kid cover her eyes while you draw a line on a fresh strip. Dip it into the water; once the ink has spread, have her open her eyes and try to guess which marker you used.
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