Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Science of the Senses

We started our study of anatomy this year with the nervous system and the five senses. We conducted MANy hands-on experiments to better understand how these work, and here are just a few:

In this experiment on the sense of touch, we predicted which part of our hands would be most sensitive, gathered data by lightly touching a paperclip tip to several different areas (palm, forearm, fingertip), then graphing the results. We found, as many students predicted, that the fingertips have the most receptors and are the most sensitive to touch.

In this experiment, we tested out whether or not there really are different areas of the tongue that are more sensitive to the different types of tastes: bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and umami. We had read conflicting reports on this and wanted to see for ourselves what is true. We found that we tasted ALL of the different "flavors" the most on the tips and sides, supporting what we learned in articles like this one:

In this experiment, we ate apples to test our sense of smell. First, we made a prediction about what would happen. Then we ate apples normally, and finally while holding a cottontail scented with vanilla extract to our nose. We found it to be true that when smelling vanilla, the apples tasted like vanilla. Some of us were incredulous, but some were not surprised at all:

Most of all, we learned that the five senses are pretty fascinating, and we would be lost without them on our quest to interpret and understand the world around us!

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An exciting week of learning culminated in a visit from the education department from the Slater Museum of Natural History at the University...