Coffee Filter Art

Learn about the nature of water on a small scale. Observe how water spreads and carries color and how different colors move at different speeds. Relate water spreading color to water flowing in a river, carrying natural materials (leaves, logs, etc.) and pollutants (chemicals, litter). Create colorful coffee filters to hang in window or elsewhere.

1) Talk about how water works. Where do you see water? In a river, pond, puddles, as rain? How does water move? Slow, fast? Does water move other objects? Leaves, logs, litter? Optionally, watch this video of water flowing in a river. 

2) Assemble materials. Cover your work surface with either plastic or an unfolded paper bag from the grocery store. 

3) Spread a coffee filter out so it is flat on your work surface. Depending on the shape of the filter, you may have to tear it to make it lay flat. 
4) Before you start coloring your coffee filter, think about how the color will spread out once you add water to the filter. With this in mind, start to color your coffee filter using colored markers. Crayola markers work really well for this activity. Water color paint also works well.
5) Once you're satisfied with the amount of color on your filter, take your paint brush and dip it into your small bowl of water. Start to paint the water across the colored coffee filter. You'll see the color start to spread out. Set aside your water and paint brush once the filter is completely wet.
6) Allow the wet coffee filter to dry out in the sun. Once dry, you can hang your coffee filter in the window or elsewhere. 
7) If you want to take an extra step, you can cut your coffee filter into shapes, like flowers, leaves, etc. 

Coffee filters
Crayola markers or other markers
Water color paint (optional)
Large or small paint brush
A small bowl of water
Something to cover your work surface

Other examples of coffee filter art include testing the chromatography of different colored markers. Chromatrography is the process of separating molecules based on their different attributes, such as how heavy they are. You can check out this chromatography experiment and try it out for yourself!