5 Creative Ways to Teach Thin Layer Chromatography

Akanksha Saxena

In the world of biology and chemical-based industries, separation techniques play a crucial role in the research and development process. TLC is a remarkable technique that allows researchers to witness the magical separation of compounds on a thin layer of adsorbent material, making it a vital tool in the arsenal of any scientist.

With widespread usage, TLC evidently enjoys a good repo in both academic research and industry. But teaching TLC poses challenges to educators due to students' fear of chemistry, lack of practical handling and visualization, and difficulty in connecting the technique to its real-world applications. With limited lab access and demonstrations, the situation becomes further grave.  

To wipe out this fear and instill a sense of learning in students, we list 5 creative ways in which educators can teach about TLC in their next class.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

Interactive models and simulation help in delivering effective lessons on topics like lab techniques, TLC being one of them. Labster's virtual Thin Layer Chromatography Simulation is an immersive solution for students to overcome the challenges of theoretical learning, offering a gamified, visually interactive approach to the subject. 

Some of the most commendable benefits of simulation-based teaching as shown by multiple studies (1, 2) are: 

  • Visual representation for better understanding
  • Provision to practice without expensive resources
  • Scope for mistakes by experimentation and optimization 
  • A personalized learning experience and immediate feedback 
  • Provision to replay, repeat and learn at one’s own pace
Preview of Thin Layer Chromatography: Separate a mixture and monitor the progress of a reaction (Screenshot3) simulation.

2. Learning with Games and Activities

Various types of games can be used to make teaching TLC easier for teachers. One type of game is a quiz game where students can be given a set of questions related to TLC and asked to answer them within a specified time. By adding a competitive element like a leaderboard or reward system, students may become more engaged and motivated to learn.

There are scientific evidences that the incorporation of games and activities whether it is physical or virtual as provided by Labster- TLC Game (where students play with the different separation patterns of pigments from a spinach leaf) could be a great start to making the topic interesting for students.  

Preview of Thin Layer Chromatography: Separate a mixture and monitor the progress of a reaction (Screenshot4) simulation.
Discover Labster's Thin Layer Chromatography virtual lab today!

3. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

Technology can be a powerful tool in teaching laboratory techniques like TLC. Educators can choose from a range of options available on the internet. To list a few,

  • Use of virtual labs with a gamification element
  • Online videos and tutorials  
  • Quiz games on Kahoot 
  • Use of mobile apps for Rf calculation 
  • VR technology 
  • Recorded video lectures on Google Meet

4. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

Linking a topic as abstract as TLC to its job prospects can be highly motivating for students because it helps them see the practical applications of what they are learning in the classroom. 

When students understand how the peculiarities of TLC make-or-break major scientific experiments, they will be driven to learn every little detail of it with interest. 

For this, you can introduce them to scientists who utilize this technique regularly for their research work or product development in industrial R&D. Online webinars could be a great option to help students connect to experts and make more informed decisions about their future education and career paths.

5. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

If you're really determined to make TLC more exciting and relevant for your students, linking it to real-world problems is a helpful suggestion! You can discuss in depth how TLC is used across varied fields like: 

  • Drug discovery
  • Quality control (food and supplements)
  • Environmental assessments
  • Forensic analysis
  • Pharmaceutical research

This will help you to demonstrate the practical applications of this technique and inspire students to learn the topic with greater enthusiasm.

Final thoughts

While we understand it’s time taking for educators to update and incorporate technological tools in their lesson plans, we can’t overemphasize its importance. Labster, therefore, supports modern-day educators in this challenge by providing a full-fledged Thin Layer Chromatography Simulation. By clarifying TLC's fundamental principles, this tool can be an excellent supplement to classroom teaching and an effective way to prepare future scientists.

Educators need to push the limits while teaching the next generation of scientists for the collective human race to take a giant leap. By providing immersive and engaging learning tools, Labster strives to make the noble acts of inspiring and motivating young learners a little simpler for educators.

Preview of Thin Layer Chromatography: Separate a mixture and monitor the progress of a reaction (Screenshot1) simulation.
Try our free 30-day All Access Educator's Pass today and play the Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) simulation alongside 300+ other virtual labs!


  1. Steadman, R. H., Coates, W. C., Huang, Y. M., Matevosian, R., Larmon, B. R., McCullough, L., & Ariel, D. (2006). Simulation-based training is superior to problem-based learning for the acquisition of critical assessment and management skills. Critical care medicine, 34(1), 151-157.
  2. van der Meij, J., & de Jong, T. (2006). Supporting students' learning with multiple representations in a dynamic simulation-based learning environment. Learning and instruction, 16(3), 199-212.
  3. Plass, J. L., Homer, B. D., & Kinzer, C. K. (2015). Foundations of game-based learning. Educational psychologist, 50(4), 258-283.

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