During the month of March, the elementary students at The New Century School undertook an exciting new collaborative adventure . . . (drumroll please) . . . The Science Fair! They did two projects, one in English and one in Spanish (not yet complete). Taste the Rainbow, the first of their projects, will be the focus of this post.
Taste the Rainbow
First learning about the Scientific Method, the kids next brainstormed about what topic they wanted to investigate. The story goes that one curious young fellow, upon discovering that multi-hued Rainbow Blast Goldfish® taste no different than run-of-the-mill Goldfish snacks, surmised that perhaps he had expected a difference in taste due to the difference in appearance. Other kids realized that they too had experienced similar disappointments with certain candies; one student described how once she had been enticed by the pretty pink color of a piece of candy only to find that it was “disgusting” when tasted. (We’ve all been there—boxes of chocolates often contain a stinker or two, belied by their beguiling exterior. It’s an age-old injustice.) As elementary teacher Mrs. DuPrau explained, “We begin the scientific method by asking a question.” So the kids had to next figure out how to formulate their idea as a question to be answered.
Let’s see how our little scientists did it!
Can our eyes fool our taste buds? Can the color of a food or drink affect a person’s perception of its taste?
This project looks at whether people’s view of what something tastes like will be changed by what they see.
We think colors can fool our taste buds at times. (Note the sophistication of their qualifier “at times.” Not easily taken in, this group.)
- Three containers of white grape juice
- One pitcher of water
- Red and green food coloring
- 78 small, plastic cups
- 26 test subjects
- With the food coloring, dye one container of juice red and one container of juice green.
- Pour a couple of inches of juice into each cup so that you have 26 cups of red juice, 26 cups of green juice, and 26 cups of uncolored juice.
- Place one cup of each color of juice in front of your subject.
- Ask your subject to taste the red juice and tell you what flavor it is.
- Ask your subject to taste the green juice and tell you what flavor it is.
- Ask your subject to taste the uncolored juice and tell you what flavor it is.
- Record their answers.
- Repeat steps 3 to 7 for all of your subjects.
- Analyze your results.
(Note: subjects were not told ahead of time specifically what they were going to be participating in.)
Note that as long as a subject identified each sample as tasting the same, that subject was considered “not fooled.” So, even if he or she labeled the juice apple instead of grape, for example, if all three were apple, that subject was not duped by the variation in color, which was the main point of the study. Also, even though the professional students kept their subjects anonymous, we can’t help but let the readers in on a little secret—our Head of School was one of those whose eyes fooled their taste buds! Shhh . . .
Through this experiment we learned that some people’s taste buds can be fooled by their eyes. Not everyone was fooled; however, most were, especially children under the age of 6. Seventeen out of twenty-six subjects were fooled. Out of the twenty-six subjects, nineteen were children 6 years old and under and seven were adults. More children were fooled than adults. Fourteen out of nineteen children were fooled, and three out of seven adults were fooled. In conclusion, beware because sometimes your eyes can fool your taste buds.
This project is a real winner—and the kids did it all themselves, including the typing and graphics for the project board. The Spanish project will be next, which our multilingual investigators are conducting entirely in Spanish. This one involves las plantas, so stay tuned.