learning lab resources - about page

Sharpie Science

Browse by Category

Use Sharpie markers in science! Here are 3 engaging science labs for students. Let me take a minute to take you back to May of last school year. As you can imagine, the end of the year is hectic. My third grade team would meet for an hour twice a week to go over report cards, end of the year activities, field trips, class lists, and purchase orders. Because I was the chairperson for third grade, I was in charge of leading the meetings and filling out the necessary paperwork.

Ok, purchase orders. My teammates and I sat down and opened those gigantic vendor catalogs. They’re kind of a teacher’s dream. Teachers LOVE school supplies and anything that helps us stay organized. We thought we were holding back, only ordering the absolute necessary supplies when submitting the purchase order. I remember jotting down items like Sharpies, Expo markers, Post-Its, notecards, composition notebooks, pencils, erasers, folders, and flip charts, new electronic pencil sharpeners, among a few other items. Well, much to our surprise, not everything was approved.

Now, teachers are getting ready to go back to school. They are sitting in on staff meetings and professional development. They are setting up and decorating their classroom to make it welcoming to the students who will soon enter them. They are scouring back to school ads to purchase all of those items that the school couldn’t afford to order. Let’s face it. Schools are underfunded and teachers end up picking up the slack out of their own pockets.

Office Depot understands the struggles teachers have in the classroom and wanted to shed light on the amazing things teachers do in their classroom, despite the lack of resources. They launched an amazing program called Teachers Change Lives to highlight some very special educators’ classroom successes. Many people don’t realize how much teachers have to fund on their own. We don’t simply snap our fingers and magically have all the supplies we need to make learning engaging. Sure, we could have the students complete workbook pages all day, but what will they learn? How will they problem solve? Will it be something they remember ten years from now?   Office Depot, understanding teachers’ struggles, contacted me and offered to send me some valuable classroom supplies, wanting to see how I would use them in my classroom.  Of course, just by looking at this loot, I instantly….no thinking necessary…knew exactly how I’d use them since I’ve found myself replenishing some of these exact materials every year.

Let’s see how we can use these Sharpies to teach some basic science principles.

Using Sharpies is an easy to create tie dye products.  I remember when I first started teaching, we tie dyed shirts in class for an upcoming field trip.  DISASTER.  Never again.  All you have to do is buy a few packs of Sharpies and let the kids do the work….and better yet…it’s not as messy as the dye.  All you need is a package of Sharpies, rubbing alcohol, a t-shirt, bowl or cup, and a rubber band.  So, are we going to waste precious class time doing this?  NOPE.  Let’s get a little lesson about solubility in there.  Permanent ink is what they call hydrophobic, which means it’s not soluble in water, but it is soluble in rubbing alcohol.  This means, the ink molecules are able to spread out and be carried to other locations.

Chromatography?  Yeah, big word, but pretty easy concept to understand.  Chromatography means “color writing” in Greek and is a way of separating mixtures of chemicals by using a liquid.  Using a Flair pen, Expo marker, Sharpie, and Crayola marker, you can see two different things.  The first is that the Expo and Sharpie are not soluble by water since the ink doesn’t spread.  The second is that you can see that the Flair pen and Crayola marker are not made up of entirely black ink.  The Flair is difficult to see in the picture, but it had some pigments of purple, while the Crayola has some orange, blue, and green in there.


How easy is it to get a permanent marker like a Sharpie out of your new shirt?  If this were to happen, what might you use to try to remove the stain?  This experiment is great for teaching students to make a hypothesis or for teaching scientific variables.  You can use various liquids to add to each black spot on an old t-shirt.  After a minute, use a toothbrush to try to get out the marker.  I waited about an hour and then went back to observe the spots.  I was shocked that hairspray took out the marker better than stain remover.  I also noticed that rubbing alcohol appears to have lifted the marker, but the bleach actually spread out really far and made that stain lighter.

Again, I’d really like to thank Office Depot for sending me these products.  I had a blast going through them and figuring out unique ways to use them in my classroom.

Now it’s your turn!  Would you like to take advantage of some special Office Depot offers?  They are showing their appreciation by providing my readers with special deals for all of the items I received in the mail.  You can click on the Teacher’s Change Lives image below to be directed to this generous offer!

You are DEFINITELY going to want to check out the Clear View Highlighters.  Although I didn’t feature it in my post, the see-through tips makes it so easy for me to see where I’m highlighting.  When highlighting for my students under my document camera, I always found myself going past what I needed to highlight because I couldn’t see the end of the sentence or phrase.  The clear tips on these really make it so much easier!


“I received these products to help facilitate this review and was compensated by Office Depot for my time. For more information about these products please visit: Office Depot

Melissa Mazur

Melissa Mazur

My name is Melissa and I am an educator, blogger, and curriculum designer.
I’m here to help offer you teaching tips and low-prep resources to help take some of the burdens off you so you can do what you do best – teach!

About Me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

learning lab resources- about

Oh hey there!

My name is Melissa and I am an educator, blogger, and curriculum designer.
I’m here to help offer you teaching tips and low-prep resources to help take some of the burdens off you so you can do what you do best – teach!  

Don't miss a thing

Enter your email below to be the first to know about new products, resources, and weekly tips for inspiring and engaging your students!

Would you like practical and actionable ideas that you can easily implement plus access to my entire free resource library?

Join my email list to gain access to my free resource library and receive emails from me with teaching ideas and tips that are sent right to your inbox!