9 & up
Adult supervision recommended when searching the internet or interacting with volunteers.
All necessary materials are readily available.
Project Time Frame
This project tests for the existence of an ability known as remote viewing.
The goals of this project are:
- To design an experiment that tests remote viewing ability.
- To produce concrete evidence for or against the existence of this ability.
- To encourage healthy skepticism and critical thinking.
Materials and Equipment
- Computer with internet access.
- Color printer
- Digital camera
- Typical office/craft supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board)
All materials can be found in local stores or on ebay.
Although it seems that 150 years of testing has produced no reliable results, belief in the existence of extra-sensory perception (or ESP) persists to this day on a global scale. ESP can be described as the ability to attain correct information without any help from the ordinary five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch). Those who claim to possess this talent have many different ways of expressing it. One of these ways is known as remote viewing, which often involves drawing an unseen object. Here, we design and conduct a simple experiment.
- What other “senses” do we have, aside from sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch?
- Why do people hold paranormal beliefs?
- Are there any beliefs that were formerly considered paranormal, but are now known to be true?
- If remote viewing is possible, what could be the mechanism that allows it to occur?
Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research
- Extrasensory perception
- Pattern recognition
- Read overviews of relevant topics (see bibliography below and terms listed above).
- Print out TWO identical sets of 25 images. Each image should depict a single object against a solid background. Objects can be of any type (an apple, a bicycle, a pencil, a painting, whatever), but each object should be clearly recognizable, and clearly different from the other chosen images.
- Recruit as many volunteers as you can get.
- Select one photo at random of the 25 samples from one set of images. It’s best if you, the experimenter, don’t know which photo got selected, so have an assistant select it, note it, and remain silent).
- Place the selected image in a manila envelope and seal the envelope. No peeking!
- Place the other 24 pictures aside, face down.
- Have each volunteer sit quietly in a dimly lit area, with paper and pencil nearby. The envelope should be visible to the volunteer, but out of reach.
- Instruct each participant to try to imagine what’s on the photo in the sealed envelope, and to draw whatever impressions come to mind. Encourage them to relax. Give each volunteer up to 30 minutes.
- When finished, hand the volunteer the whole stack of 25 photos from the unused (2nd) set.
- Ask the volunteer to select the correct image from the pile, using their drawings to assist them if needed.
- Open the envelope and see if the photo in the envelope matches the one selected by the volunteer.
- Volunteers (if any) who select the correct image should be tested a second time.
- Carefully record all results.
- Analyze the data
- Interpret your findings in a detailed report.
- Display any interesting photos taken throughout the course of the experiment.
- Invite all of your science fair visitors to take the test.
Conceptual Statistics for Beginners (Newman, Isadore & Carol, 2005 reprint)
Wiki article: “remote viewing”
Randi.org (The James Randi Educational Foundation)
Internet searches of your own choosing: Search for any of the terms listed above (or make up your own phrases to search), and click on any results that interest you. Have fun surfing the net!
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.