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STEM Activity: Paint With Berry Pigments

STEM Activities

National Blueberry Day is celebrated on July 8, a holiday that reminds us of the benefits of this tasty blue fruit. Did you know that these yummy berries can be used for more than just eating? They also can create beautiful colors! Check out the activity below to explore the natural world and discover how to extract pigment from various berries.


Materials Needed:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cardstock
  • Disposable bowls (3)
  • Disposable spoons (3)
  • Paintbrush
  • Raspberries
  • Spoon
  • Water
  • White paint


Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Place a handful of your blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in three separate bowls.
  2. Using your spoons, mash the berries in their bowls, then soak them in about a tablespoon of water for 10-15 minutes to extract their pigment.

    Optional: You also can microwave your berry and water mixture for one minute to speed up the process. Be sure your bowl is microwave-safe.
  3. With either your fingers or spoon, remove any large pieces of the berries, leaving only the liquid.
  4. Add a few drops of white paint to each bowl, then stir each mixture with your spoon.
  5. Dip your paintbrush in the berry-paint mixture and paint the cardstock using each color while you consider these questions:
    • Which berry had the brightest color?
    • Were you surprised by any of the colors of the berries?
    • Which berry was the hardest to extract color from?
  6. Try mixing the paints you created to make new colors.
  7. Once you’ve created works of art on the cardstock, share them with your family or friends!


What Are We Discovering?

When combined with a thickening agent, pigments make the paint colors we see all around us. Natural pigments can be made from plants, insects and even minerals.

National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Edwin Binney, along with his cousin C. Harold Smith, ran a company that became a leader in manufacturing carbon black, a dark material made from carbon that is used for paint, printing ink and enameled leather. Binney and Smith went on to create a safe wax crayon using the pigment and wax mixing techniques they had developed. They named their crayons Crayola® and their first pack contained eight pieces.


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