Studying Our Senses

In the lab, Studying Our Senses, students investigate how a person identifies different flavors of jellybeans, including the contribution of smell to taste sensations. Students also explore the surprising ways the brain interprets the patterns of light and dark that reach our eyes; visual illusions illustrate general principles of sensory processing. 

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

We invite comments on this Hands-On Activity and the accompanying Teacher Preparation Notes, including suggestions for other teachers who are planning to use the activity, useful preparatory or follow-up activities, additional resources or any questions you have related to the activity, or a brief description of any problem you might have encountered. If you have a relevant Word document you would like to have posted on this comments page, such as a version of the protocol you have used in your classroom, or if you would prefer to send your comments or questions in a private message, please write Ingrid Waldron at

See also a complete list of activities:
Hands-on Activities for Teaching Biology to High School and Middle School Students



iwaldron's picture

May 2009 revision of this activity

The only changes in this revision of the Student Handout and Teacher Preparation Notes provide updated information on taste physiology.
Ingrid Waldron's picture

The mammal in studying our senses

This is a picture of a cow, but hard to see because crucial edges are missing and many extraneous edges are shown; it's a terrible picture, but very useful for showing how much we emphasize edges in our processing of visual input. Some people find it easiest to see the cow if you look at the picture from some distance. If you still can't see the cow, it's a fun activity to show the picture to a bunch of friends or family members and very likely one of them will be able to see the cow and then show it to the rest of you.

Good luck!
Ingrid Waldron

Sara Rupp's picture

Studying Our Senses

Hello. I am a middle school science teacher and plan on using your lab (Studying Our Senses) in a few days. I have read through both the student and teacher sheets, but cannot find an answer to something. The picture of the mammal that the students are to figure out??? I do not know what it is, nor can I find the answer anywhere. I have searched a lot! Can you please help me?

Thank You,
Sara C. Rupp
Riverview Middle School
Plymouth, WI

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.