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With My Eyes Closed Shut! Using all of Our Senses Except Sight, Can we Readily Identify Objects?

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Author: Dr. Muriel Gerhard

Grade Level: 4th; Type: Human Anatomy

Objective:

To determine if we can readily identify objects by using all of our senses except sight.

Research Questions:

  • What are the five senses? 
  • To what extent do we depend on these senses? 
  • How do these sense organs send and record information about our environment?
  • What role does the brain play in processing the information of the world around us? 
  • How do blind people compensate for the loss of sight?

On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint students with basic information on the use of our senses to experience the world about us. Our environment is filled with both internal and external stimuli. We are able to distinguish among these varied stimuli by means of five sense organs as well as a highly developed system of nerves, specialized cells and our brain. In this project, the student will investigate the result of eliminating the sense of sight and depending on the use of the senses of taste, smell, touch and sound in order to identify a variety of common objects. What is significant to keep in mind is that the students will only be able to identify objects and substances with whose properties they are familiar. Taking this experience one step further, students will begin to get the feel of what it must be like to be deprived of one`s sight and recognize how significant this particular sense is and the critical part it plays in our lives.

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, in the specific cases where it is warranted, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

Materials:

  • an orange
  • pieces of orange
  • an apple
  • pieces of apple
  • a golf ball
  • rubber ball
  • a ball of absorbent cotton
  • a rubber band
  • a metal washer
  • a piece of plastic
  • a bell
  • a knif
  • paper plates or trays
  • tablecloths to cover all the materials
  • paper towels for clean up
  • a piece of wax paper
  • a blindfolds.

These materials are readily available from the local supermarket or grocers and from home.

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather all the materials you will need for this project. These include: an orange, pieces of orange, an apple , pieces of apple, a golf ball, rubber ball, a ball of absorbent cotton , a rubber band, a metal washer, a piece of plastic, a bell, paper towels for clean up, trays, paper plates a piece of wax paper, tablecloths to cover all of this material and blindfolds. (One for each of your subjects.)
  2. Copy the Data Chart and the Summary Chart provided on the next page so that you can readily record the observations and summarize your data. You may choose to use one or both of these charts.
  3. Set up your materials on paper plates and trays. These will include orange, orange segments to taste and smell an apple, pieces of apple to taste and smell, and all of the following to handle and touch the golf and rubber and cotton balls, the metal washer, the rubber band and the pieces of plastic.
  4. Obtain your subjects (a minimum of 5). Describe the procedure. Each will be blind folded and attempt to identify the objects and substances provided by tasting, touching, smelling and listening. The results will be recorded and then tabulated.
  5. Start the procedure. Use one data sheet per subject and record your observations. Complete the procedure with all five of your subjects.
  6. Summarize the data. What did you discover? Were your subjects able to identify all of the materials correctly with their eyes closed shut? Examine the data to determine where they had difficulty? How do you explain it? Did the ability to identify objects or materials depend on their  familiarity with the substances or objects?
  7. Write up the project. Be sure to include your research and bibliography and any advice you would give someone who would like to replicate or expand this investigation.

                                                                                        Chart of Data 

                   Subjects Name or Number: _____________________

Specimens Readily Identified Not Identified
whole apple    
pieces of apple    
whole orange    
pieces of orange    
golf ball    
rubber ball    
cotton ball    
rubber band    
metal washer    
piece of plastic    
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