5 Creative Ways to Teach Pigment Extraction Without Lecturing

Akanksha Saxena

Pigments are amazing molecules that perform diverse functions in living organisms. From imparting distinct colors to our eyes and skin to enabling photoautotrophs like plants and certain algae with the ability to harvest sunlight, pigments play extraordinary roles in the biological world.

To study these pigments and decipher their characteristics, it’s a prime necessity to first harvest or extract or isolate them. Pigment extraction is carried out using a variety of extraction procedures. It becomes particularly tricky when we have to extract pigments from plant systems. There is an endless list of plant pigments with each one of them requiring different isolation making the topic all the way trickier.

To overcome these issues pertaining to pigment extraction, we have enlisted 5 creative ways of efficiently teaching it.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

In today’s technologically advanced times, educators must become tech-friendly and focus on the utilization of tools like interactive models and simulations that facilitate easy visualization of complex topics like pigment extraction.

One approach to utilizing virtual simulations is by creating Virtual Lab Environments that mimic the process of pigment extraction. Labster provides one such simulation that allows students to regulate various parameters like ‘solvent choice, temperature and extraction time’ to observe their individualistic and combined effects on pigment extraction efficiency. As students virtually select different solvents based on the ‘hydrophobic or hydrophilic nature of the pigments’, they can learn how the choice of solvent affects the extraction process.

Preview of pigment extraction virtual lab.

2. Learning with Games and Activities

The use of gamified elements and interactive activities can tremendously enhance the learning outcomes when dealing with practical topics like pigment extraction and evaluation.  Research has shown that immersive learning experiences are bound to motivate students to actively participate and explore the subject matter. 

You can design a quest or mission where students can indulge in various stages of pigment extraction. Not only will this help them hone their lab handling skills but will also clarify the scientific rationale underlying the utilization of different components and instruments like liquid nitrogen, spectrophotometer, solvents, different spectrum of light, etc. Alternatively, you can use the Pigment Extraction Game provided by Labster where students can involve in the extraction of chlorophyll and other chemically-diverse pigments.

3. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

Educators can take advantage of a variety of technological interventions at their disposal to enhance students’ understanding of pigment extraction. To list a few,

  • Virtual Simulations (platform to virtually perform pigment extraction experiments)
  • Interactive Visualizations (to help students understand the properties of different spectra of visible light and why pigments are colorful)
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (to facilitate exploration and understanding of pigment locations within cells) 
  • Online Databases and Tools (to access data related to different pigment structures)
Abosrbanc spectru  of te hexane extracts.
Discover Labster's Pigment Extraction virtual lab today!

4. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

Pigment extraction finds wide utilization across fields. Quoting those areas and domains can inspire learners and help them see the real-world significance of this topic.

You can discuss how the extraction of photosynthesis-relevant pigments using different solvents relates to the broader field of research. You can also highlight the examples of professionals like biochemists, biotechnologists, or research scientists who are sought after for their expertise in pigment extraction.

Alternatively, you can engage your students in a Virtual Sustainable Energy Quest where they can work alongside Roxy, our virtual researcher who is working on a mysterious dark alga. As they get an opportunity to extract all the pigments of this alga, they can reflect on how useful this alga will be for the sustainable energy plan if it shows the presence of a pigment that absorbs green light.

5. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

Educators can gather more engagement while delivering lectures on the topic of pigment extraction by demonstrating the practical significance of the topic. You can discuss how extraction and analysis of pigments are crucial in the development of natural dyes, colorants, and pharmaceutical compounds. You can also empasize how pigment properties are important for QA/QC and consistency checks of natural colorants in pharmaceutical products. 

Connecting pigment extraction to the field of food science and technology can also be intriguing for students. As you illustrate how the extraction and analysis of pigments are applied in food coloring, flavoring, and nutritional studies, they can better understand the relevance of this subject. 

Final thoughts

As you draw upon established knowledge, we recommend making the lectures in dry subjects like photosynthetic pigments as engaging as possible! 


  1. Papastergiou, M. (2009). Digital game-based learning in high school computer science education: Impact on educational effectiveness and student motivation. Computers & Education, 52(1), 1-12.
  2. Rowan, K. S. (1989). Photosynthetic pigments of algae. (Link)
a man sitting in front of a computer monitor
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