Spectacular colour chemistry

Discover the world of chemistry by synthesising your own dyes and taking on a real life chemistry challenge.

  • Children working in the lab.

    Colourful work in the lab.

    Credit: Karen Hatch


  • Upper Key Stage 2

  • Key Stage 3

  • Key Stage 4

  • Key Stage 5


This workshop is designed for students between the ages of 11 and 18 years old, and lasts for around 4 hours including a 30 – 40 minute break for lunch (not provided).

The maximum group size is 24. Actual group sizes depend on age and circumstance, for more info contact the team at ysc@ri.ac.uk.

KS2 and KS3 groups will investigate the differences between the primary colours of pigments, and the primary colours of light. After discussing how the eye forms colour images, students will discover how a whole range of coloured light can be produced using chemistry. They will also produce and investigate two natural dyes.

KS4 & post-16 groups will begin with a brief overview of light and colour mixing. This leads on to a discussion of how colour arises through removal of specific wavelengths of light, and both additive and subtractive colour mixing. The students then discover how chemical bonding can lead to colour, and they produce both natural and synthetic dyes. The final part of the workshop sees the students design their own colourimetry experiment to determine the unknown concentration of a dye sample.

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