Do not eat any fruit to which you have added chemicals. Use caution when using sharp knives or other kitchen equipment; adult supervision is recommended.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.
Fruit is a strategy some plants use to attract animals to disperse seeds. The animals eat the fruit and disperse the seeds through the digestive system. To attract animals, fruit needs to ripen and develop an odor that acts as an attractant. How much more successful are ripe fruits at attracting animals? Try setting out an over and under ripe piece of fruit, and compare how many many insects are attracted to each fruit. How does ripening occur? You can do an experiment using a very ripe banana to see how ethylene can speed the ripening of other types of green, unripe fruit (Science Buddies, One Bad Apple Spoils the Whole Bunch: An Experiment on the Plant Hormone Ethylene ). What physiological changes accompany fruit ripening? You can do a taste test of ripe and unripe fruit to assay the sweetness of the fruit. You can also see that as a fruit ripens, it turns brown when exposed to oxygen. This is because of oxidation that occurs on the surface of the fruit. But when we buy fruit products, we don't like them to be brown and yucky. This is why some foods contain preservatives. How do preservatives work? Which types of chemicals act as preservatives? You can use slices of apple or banana to test different chemicals for preservative properties. Try ground up vitamin C tablets, vinegar, lemon juice, vitamin E oil, salt or sugar. Which chemicals will keep the fruit from turning brown? (Cobb, 1979, 69–73; Vecchione, 2001, 162–163)
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If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Food Scientist or Technologist
There is a fraction of the world's population that doesn't have enough to eat or doesn't have access to food that is nutritionally rich. Food scientists or technologists work to find new sources of food that have the right nutrition levels and that are safe for human consumption. In fact, our nation's food supply depends on food scientists and technologists that test and develop foods that meet and exceed government food safety standards. If you are interested in combining biology, chemistry, and the knowledge that you are helping people, then a career as a food scientist or technologist could be a great choice for you!
With a growing world population, making sure that there is enough food for everyone is critical. Plant scientists work to ensure that agricultural practices result in an abundance of nutritious food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
As the world's population grows larger, it is important to improve the quality and yield of food crops and animal food sources. Agricultural technicians work in the forefront of this very important research area by helping scientists conduct novel experiments. If you would like to combine technology with the desire to see things grow, then read further to learn more about this exciting career.
Food Science Technician
Good taste, texture, quality, and safety are all very important in the food industry. Food science technicians test and catalog the physical and chemical properties of food to help ensure these aspects.
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