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Hi scientists,
I am in 8th grade and I\'m starting to work on the science fair project. The question for my project is:
How does sight affects taste?

I will test that by having 3 equal amounts of soda drinks in clear cups. One will be cherry, one will be grape and one will be lemon/lime. The volunteers will first taste each drink and try to guess the flavors. Next, I will blindfold the volunteers and have them guess again. Then I will add food coloring to the drinks to make the cherry look like grape, lemon/lime look like orange and grape look like root beer or cocoa cola. The volunteers will then test each drink and tell me what they think each flavor is. My hypothesis is that on the control and blindfolded test, most people will guess correctly. On the incorrect colored test, I think people will guess the cherry to be grape, the lemon/lime to be orange and the grape to be coca cola.

a. Do you think that the procedures should be done differently in order to answer my question (How does sight affects taste)?
b. Do you think the colors of each flavor make a difference, or should I change them?
c. Do you think my hypothesis is correct?
d. Is there anything important that I need to know before I start conducting the experiment?
e. How many volunteers do you think I should have to make the experiment reliable?
f. How do you think I should graph this information?
g. Do you think this are too many variables to deal with, and should I make it to just one flavored drink?
h. Is there anything else you know about why sight effects taste that you think is important to conduct this experiment?
i. What do for your career, and what is your knowledge in this topic?
Thank you so much for your time and expertise on this subject. This will help me greatly on my science project.

Answer 1:

WOW, you are really thinking like a scientist!

A&B. You have good controls to make your experiment “fair.” Using the same color, vs. “wrong” color, vs. no color (blindfold) is an excellent experimental design.

C. We won’t know whether your hypothesis is supported until you test it, that’s part of the fun of Science. You can never prove that your explanation is correct anyway.

D. You might want to read up on taste and how our brain translates sensations.

E. You are also thinking about an important element of experimental design—the number of people to test. We call this the sample size. I’d say you would want at least 10. More is always better.

F. For your graph, you could go a couple of different ways. Your graph should tell a story. The story you want to tell is either people’s expectations about the flavor influenced their guess or it didn’t. So you might want your graph to show something like % correct guesses for your three treatments (same, wrong, none) for each flavor. Use a bar graph. You might want to make a separate bar graph for each color if you are new to graphing. Check back with me when you have results if you need help.

G. I’d say test them all. You might find that some colors have more of an effect than others.

H. I think you have a good knowledge base now. You may have more questions later.

I. I am a biology professor at a college in Wisconsin. I am interested in animal behavior. I have published on behavior and physiology in rodents.

PS—Did you know that the main flavor in root beer is wintergreen?

Good luck!


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