Investigation Sequence


Five Senses

Written by:

Samantha Fisher and Kristi Koerselman                 Date


Focus Questions

How do humans experience things around them?


Content: Earth, Physical, & Life


Cross cutting concepts


Science Practice

Human beings experience the world around them through their 5 senses. Using their 5 senses humans identify and classify their observations to understand the world around them.

Personal, Social, Technology, Nature of Science, History


Background information

There are 5 senses (sight (bright, dull, small, large, round, square, etc.), smell (good, bad, questionable), hearing (loud, soft, high pitch, low pitch), taste (bitter, sour, sweet, salty), and touch (rough, smooth, bumpy, soft, furry, etc)). We associate a body part with each sense.additionalinfo

Activity Sequence

1. Smelly smells
2. Sound is vibrations
3. What’s in the box?
4. What is missing?
5. Pepsi challenge
6. Feely bags
7. Smell and taste

Activity Descriptions

Activity 1
Smelly smells
Materials: 5 film canisters or baby food jars, 5 cotton balls soaked in smells (vinegar, vanilla, orange juice, lemon juice, root beer)
1. Close your eyes and pretend you smell something cooking in the kitchen.
2. What do you smell? Are they good or bad smells?
3. How do you know they are good or bad smells? Now think of something at home that doesn’t smell good. What do you smell?
4. Put one cotton ball in one canister.
5. Smell the containers one at a time.
6. Ask the students to guess what household item the think they smell.
7. Ask students why they feel their answer is what it is.
8. Ask how they came the conclusion as to what they smell.
9. Ask the students if what they smelled was good or bad.
10. Think of how you use smell to stay safe. (gas, smoke, bad food, etc.)

Activity 2
Sound is vibrations
Materials: different size bottles, same size bottles, water, wooden spoon, 7-8 glasses that are the same shape and size

1. When you listen to music, do you like higher sounds (soprano) or lower sounds (bass)?
2. Why do you think you like that sound better than the other one? (Does it hurt your ears?)
3. Fill bottles of different sizes and same sizes with the same and different amounts of water.
4. Students predict what will happen if they blow across the tops of the bottles. The students blow on the bottles and try to see if there is a pattern among the different sounds the bottles make.
5. Students try to sequence the sounds from lowest to highest.
6. Ask students what was vibrating that caused the bottles to make different sounds. (The air inside the bottle)
7. Ask if all the bottles had the same amount of air in them. (No, the ones that had a lot of water had only a little bit of air)
8. Ask students how the amount of water affects the pitch of the sound. (The more water there is, the higher the pitch.)
9. How does this relate to a school band? Tuba vs. flute. (Tuba has a lower pitch and a flute has a higher pitch.)

Activity 3
What’s in the box?
Materials: small objects (pennies, cotton balls, screws, etc.), empty containers
1. What sound would a cotton ball make if it dropped? What would a rock sound like?
2. What are some things about a cotton ball and a rock that make them sound the way they do when they are dropped?
3. Place one or more like objects inside the container without showing the students.
4. Ask them to identify the object inside by the sound they make when the container is moved or shaken.
5. Take turns placing an object inside the container until students guess the object.
6. Ask students how they determined what was inside the container.
7. Ask how they knew what the object was based on what the heard.
8. Ask how they guessed the object correctly without seeing what the object was in the beginning.
9. Ask the students if objects have the same sound. (No). What affects their sounds? (weight and size)

Activity 4
What is missing?
Materials: classroom objects
1. Think of your bedroom at home. Do you think you would notice if something was missing from your room?
2. What are some of the things you would notice were gone? (bed, clothes, dresser) Why do you think you would notice them if they were gone? (size, daily use)
3. What are some things you might not notice? (small toy, hair accessory, etc.) Why would these objects be harder to notice if they were missing or not?
4. Ask the students how important they think it is to be observant.
5. Ask the students what they feel it takes to be observant of things around them.
6. Ask the students if they feel they are observant and want to play a game.
7. Remove an object in the classroom when students aren’t looking or have their heads down.
8. Have them try to solve the mystery—What is missing?
9. The teacher may ask students to find something that is round, square, rectangular, etc. or have them guess something the teacher sees that has one of these shapes.
10. Students keep guessing until the object has been guessed and the game continues until the students are better at their observation skills.
11. On your way home today, try to notice if anything is different from the usual. (Did your neighbors mow their lawn? Did someone paint his house? Did someone get a new car? Etc.)

Activity 5
Pepsi challenge
Materials: glasses, Pepsi, Coke, and Mt. Dew
1. Think about what you are having for lunch today. What kinds of foods are salty? Bitter? Sweet? Sour?
2. How do you know what something tastes like? What taste does you like best?
3. Ask students what soft drink they like better, Pepsi or Coke.
4. Ask the students if they would be able to tell which one they were drinking if they didn’t see it in its original container and wasn’t marked.
5. Have the students taste the 2 soft drinks and try to label each based on what they know.
6. Ask the students how they were able to label the soft drinks. What sense did they depend on? How did they classify the drinks? (color, sweetness, etc.)
7. Find out if the students were correct and talk about why or why not.
8. Have the students go home and see if they can taste what is for dinner without being told. (Do the vegetables taste fresh or like they’re from a can? Is the juice 100% juice or kool aide? Etc.)

Activity 6
Feely bags
Materials: Paper bag, several objects (roll of toilet paper, stuffed animal, socks, etc)
1. Have students think of things that have different feels. (rough = sandpaper, soft = their dog, etc.) Write their responses on the board
2. Ask students to think about their sense of touch.
3. Ask them what things are rough, smooth, soft, hard, etc.
4. Put an object in a bag without students seeing the object.
5. Based on their sense of touch, students have to guess the object.
6. Write down the suggestions of the object and see if anyone was correct.
7. Ask students how they were able to "see" the object without actually looking at it.
8. Ask them how they knew what the object was based only on touch. (rough, smooth, bumpy, soft, hard, hot, cold, etc.)
9. Have students try the same thing with a gloved hand. How is this different from the first time? Is it easier or harder to guess? Why is it different this time around?
10. Have students go on a scavenger hunt to find things that are rough, soft, hard, bumpy, furry, etc.

Activity 7
Smell and taste
Materials: toast, onion, or orange, paper plate, napkin, 2 plastic bags with "mystery powders" (grape drink powder and "pizza" powder), film container, small zip-lock baggie, spoon, glass of water
1. Ask students to think about when they have a cold. Does everything taste the same as when you don’t have a cold?
2. Ask students why they think we don’t taste things as well when we can’t smell it.
3. Cover a piece of toast, onion, or orange with napkin and ask each student to smell it without saying anything. Call on someone to identify what it is and ask how many agree? Are there other ideas? How can you be sure since you didn’t see or taste it?
4. Do the same with the "mystery powders."
5. Have a student spoon a small amount of the powder #1 into a partner’s open hand. Have the partner smell and taste the powder with his nose closed. Have them describe it. Have the partner smell and taste the powder with his nose open and describe it now. Take a sip of the water to rinse out mouth. Follow the same procedure with powder #2, but the other student is the "taster" now. Trade so both get a chance with the powders.
6. Have students compare their observations with their partners. Were they surprised by how things tasted when they nose was closed? Open? Have they ever noticed foods don’t have much taste when they have a cold?
7. Have the students do the same thing now with a potato and an apple. Have them close their nose and taste both. Can they figure out what the foods are without smelling them?
8. Name foods you have to smell in order to identify. (apple vs. pear)
Challenge: Take foods that look the same, but don’t smell the same. (sweetened and unsweetened chocolate, salt and sugar, etc.) Smell and taste to see if you really need to do both to figure out which is which.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes