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The Touch Response *

Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Avoid applying too much pressure and harming an animal when performing the touch test.
*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.


All animals need to respond to changes in their immediate environment. The sensory structures of animals are each made to respond to distinct types of sensory stimuli: touch, taste, sound, light and smell. How are these stimuli received? Different animals have different strategies for receiving stimuli and develop specialized structures for doing so. Antennae, ears, noses, tongues, eyes, eye spots, hairs and bristles are all examples of sensory structures used by different animals to sense their environment. You can do several experiments to test how different animals use sensory structures and the sensitivity of different structures. In humans the skin is the largest organ, and also the largest sensory structure with nerves that sense touch stimuli. Try a touch test using a toothpick on different parts of the skin. Do all parts of the body sense touch in the same way, or with the same sensitivity? Do other animals have differences in touch sensitivity? Try a touch test at the anterior (front) and posterior (rear) end of a caterpillar or worm. Do both ends have the same response? How about more specialized animal structures, such as legs, wings or antennae? You can perform a touch test on different parts of an insect to measure the sensitivity of the touch response in different sensory structures. Does stimulating the touch response lead to a change in behavior? (Dashefsky, 1995, 30-32)

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Science Buddies Staff. "The Touch Response" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Zoo_p040.shtml>

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Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). The Touch Response. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Zoo_p040.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-06-30


Dashefsky, H.S. 1995. Zoology: 49 Science Fair Projects. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

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