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Our ability to identify natural and synthetic scents Featured science projectScience project video

Materials

The materials required for this science fair project:

-    A bottle each of natural scents –  rose, banana, orange, lemon, lavender, apple, cinnamon, jasmine, vanilla and strawberry scents
-    A bottle each of synthetic scents – rose, banana, orange, lemon, lavender, apple, cinnamon, jasmine, vanilla and strawberry scents
-    200 pieces of tissues
-    10 participants
-    A black marker pen

Procedure

1.    For this science fair project, the independent variable is the natural or synthetic scent and the fragrance of the scent - rose, banana, orange, lemon, lavender, apple, cinnamon, jasmine, vanilla and strawberry. The dependent variable is the choice of the natural scent selected by the participant. This is determined by asking the participants to smell the scents and identify the natural scent. The constants (control variables) are the number of fragrances, the amount of scent on each tissue and the size of the tissue paper.

2.    The bottles containing natural and synthetic fragrances of rose, banana, orange, lemon, lavender, apple, cinnamon, jasmine, vanilla and strawberry are purchased from a local department store.

3.    The 200 pieces of tissues are separated into 10 groups of 20 tissues each. Using the marker pen, the tissues in each group are labeled as “rose”, “banana”, “orange”, “lemon”, “lavender”, “apple”, “cinnamon”, “jasmine”, “vanilla” or “strawberry”. The 20 tissues in each group are further separated into 2 and marked as “A” or “B”. A drop of natural or synthetic fragrance is placed on each tissue according to the marking. For each of the 10 scents, the natural or synthetic scents will be marked “A” or “B” randomly . The choice of “A” or “B” for the natural / synthetic scents will be recorded but not revealed to the participants.

4.    Each of the 10 participants are given 20 tissues (10 fragrances of “A” and “B”) and they are asked to select the 10 tissues that they think, contain  natural scents. Their selected tissues are collected and the number of correct choices is recorded in the table below. They should not be told how many synthetic/natural scent samples have been given to them.

5.    If the participant makes close to 10 correct choices, then they are regarded to have successfully differentiated between the natural and synthetic scents.  If 7 or 8 correct choices are made, then they are regarded to be fairly successful in differentiating between natural or synthetic scents. However, if only 6 or less correct choices are made, then the participant(s) are regarded to be unable to differentiate between the natural and synthetic scents.
 

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Complexity level:
5
Project cost ($):
100
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 1 hour for observation
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements