Science fair projects are a "hands-on" way for children
to learn about the effects of synthetic food additives.
After reading a magazine article about an experiment done by another sixth grader, Taylor wanted to do his own yellow dye #5 challenge on some mice. We were a little
hesitant to agree to the experiment he titled "Fuzzy
Brained Mice," because we were not sure how it would turn out. Nevertheless,
we headed out to the pet store and purchased four mice.
Fortunately, we already had two cages, water bottles, and wheels for
hamsters that we had previously owned. After researching maze design on line,
my husband decided to design one with Taylor, using graph paper. They
built the maze with a plywood base. After drawing the plans onto
the wood, they hot-glued the fiberboard walls into place. All the
wood was cut by a very generous man at Home Depot. Once it was completed,
Taylor chose to paint it his favorite color, orange. Together,
father and son sprayed it a cool fluorescent orange and green, finishing the
construction in one afternoon.
Taylor separated his mice into two groups of two, and initially fed
and watered them equally while he trained them to run the maze. After
about three weeks of training, all four mice were running the maze
with similar times of about twenty seconds.
Then, he gave one set of mice 1/4 tsp of liquid Yellow Dye #5 in their 6 oz bottle
We waited anxiously the next morning to see what the
results would be. Would there be a change in one day? After all, the
amount of coloring in the water was barely visible. How could it do anything?
were dramatic. The two mice who received the dye in their water had
increased their maze time from about 20 seconds to over 100
seconds! Their performance continued to deteriorate over the next three days
until they reached a maze time of more than 200
seconds (see the chart below). Even though they had previously known the maze route
as well as the Pure Water Mice, they were confused and took dead-ends continuously. Additionally,
one Yellow Dye Mouse became aggressive and attacked its cage mate.