McMillan students explore STEM questions

Lolly BowlerMaking the Grade: Utah works to improve its marks in STEM education Utah Business May 8, 2018News

Which flower absorbs the most amount of water? Do kids or adults have a quicker reaction time? How tall do I sound? These and other questions, McMillan Elementary student-scientists explored as part of their STEM fair, which was on display during the interactive STEM night activities.

“We invited all the students from kindergarten to sixth-grade to participate,” said McMillan STEM coordinator Kristen McRae, who said that 130 students took the opportunity to display 118 projects. “Quite a few of our younger students want to do it because it’s fun and presented their projects to judges.” Those students, she said, received feedback from area judges so when they reach the upper grades, they can compete for spots to advance to the University of Utah Science and Engineering Regional Fair.

Third-grader Lily Matsumori was one of those students. She questioned what the effect of color had on the taste of food and drinks. “I wanted to know if when our eyes see the color of the food, if it effects what we think and sends signals to the brain how the food will taste,” she said. “I thought it would.”

To test her hypothesis, Lily used red and green food coloring to change the color of apple juice. Twenty people tasted both colored drinks and while all agreed the drink was a juice, the majority of testers thought the two drinks were different, with the red-colored apple juice more sweet and the green-colored, more tart.

“I proved my hypothesis that the color does affect the taste of food and the testers were tricked into thinking the juices were different. I know some companies that make and sell food add coloring to their products to make them more appealing, but I’d like to further my experiment with other colors like purple and black to see what kinds of messages our eyes will send to our brains about those,” she said.

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