Feet :: A Smelly Science Fair Project

Can you tell a person’s gender by looking at their bare feet? You may think it's obvious, but surprisingly, it isn’t. This district-winning school science fair project is super fun…that is, if you’re not afraid of feet (honestly, it’s a real fear!).

Step 1: Create a Hypothesis

The purpose of this project is to determine whether you can recognize a person’s gender by looking at pictures of their bare feet[/kwlink]. Based on this, you need to create a hypothesis (or prediction). For example, you may predict that…

  • the older the person, the easier it is to identify their gender by looking at their feet
  • female feet are easier to identify than male feet
  • male feet are easier to identify than female feet

Those are three options for a hypothesis. But the choice is up to you.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

For this project, you’ll need the following:

  • 20 volunteers who will let you take pictures of their feet
  • Camera
  • Black poster board
  • Post-it notes
  • Felt pen
  • Survey chart to record your data
  • 50 people to survey

Step 3: Follow the Procedure

  1. First, you need to find 20 volunteers who will let you take a picture of their bare feet. You’ll need 10 males[/kwlink] and 10 females ranging from ages 7 to 14, as well as two teenagers and two adults. Make sure you have one male and one female from each age group.

  2. Ask each volunteer to stand on a sheet of black poster board to make the pictures consistent. Place a numbered Post-it note in front of their feet so you can keep track of which feet belong to which age and gender. Then take the pictures. (Make sure no one is wearing anklets, toe rings or nail polish).

  3. After you develop the film, find 50 volunteers to survey. Show them each photograph and ask them to guess whether the feet belong to a male or female. Record their answers on a chart. For each picture, keep track of how many people guessed right, and how many guessed wrong.

Step 4: Gather Your Results

Once you complete the survey, you can compare your results to your hypothesis. Did most people guess the right gender when the feet belonged to someone older? Were female feet easier to identify? How about males? Remember, it’s okay if your hypothesis turns out to be wrong. After all, if we knew the answers, we wouldn’t need to experiment.

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