It's an illusion, Michael.
April 9, 2015 8:26 AM   Subscribe

At our next scout meeting I want to have my girls earn the Brownie Senses badge (omg it is the cutest!) by playing with some illusions, and I need some more ideas to round it out.

To preface, I'm aware of this blog. I know my girls, and there's no way about half of them would stay blindfolded for even a second, and my troop also has limited language/writing skills due to no english in the homes, so the secret written ballot thing would be no good.

So, anyway, illusions.

I'm thinking along the lines the sort of things in this post here, like the hole in the hand trick with a paper tube and floating arms after standing in a doorway. Visual and tactile illusions are easy peasy.

For taste, I'm going to do what resident Best MeFite Aunt easily confused did here, with the different colors of lemonade.

That leaves smell and sound.

I need ideas, please! What are some olfactory and auditory illusions that I could do with a group of girls aged 5-10 that are easy, surprising, and fun?

I am also open to more/other suggestions for the other senses!
posted by phunniemee to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "The most intriguing demonstration of how smell can affect taste involves eating an apple as you hold a more pungent pear beneath your nostrils. The smell of the pear will obliterate that of the apple to such an extent that the flesh of the apple you eat will assume the flavour of a pear."
posted by WCityMike at 8:30 AM on April 9, 2015

Also: for a few ideas.
posted by WCityMike at 8:31 AM on April 9, 2015

You could turn off the lights and play some sounds in the dark. Perhaps running water or the sound of a train approaching.
posted by nickggully at 8:34 AM on April 9, 2015

I've recently watched a few episodes of Brain Games on NETFLIX. Starting with the very first episode, there are some really neat (my mind was blown) sensory illusions that you could likely duplicate pretty easily.
posted by tempestuoso at 8:35 AM on April 9, 2015

The phantom words illusion and the speech-to-song illusion are both pretty cool.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:40 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've always wanted to try these Miracle Berry Tablets, as they're supposed to totally mess around with your sense of taste.
posted by jquinby at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The old block your nose and guess what these little squares of food are is fun. You can cut up a potato and an apple/pear and other foods of the same texture so they all look like little white squares of food and have them block their noses and eat them and see if they can tell plate A from plate B with their noses blocked.
posted by wwax at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know if it counts as an auditory illusion, but the song Mairzy Doats is not the gobbledygook that it originally seems. Maybe coupled with a game of Telephone to point out that what you think you heard isn't what was actually said?
posted by Liesl at 9:12 AM on April 9, 2015

The old hot water/cold water trick?
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2015

how about the McGurk effect? Clear, simple, and quick.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:17 AM on April 9, 2015

The old game of Telephone or Chinese Whispers, where a spoken message suffers cumulative interpretation errors as it passes from person to person, might count as an auditory illusion. In any case it can be fun.
posted by flabdablet at 9:35 AM on April 9, 2015

You might find some fun ideas on the Exploratorium's website.
posted by radioamy at 11:12 AM on April 9, 2015

I've always wanted to try these Miracle Berry Tablets, as they're supposed to totally mess around with your sense of taste.

I've tried them with a couple friends and we all concluded that they were rather underwhelming. Yes the lemon slice tasted sweet but it wasn't an OMG THIS IS SO WEIRD experience we expected. More importantly, you have to roll them around on your tongue for at least 3 minutes first, and they don't taste that great, so I suspect your girls would spit them out before achieving the taste changing effect.
posted by rada at 11:20 AM on April 9, 2015

Best answer: Not olfactory or auditory but so neat that I cannot help but post it here:

Professor Akiyoshi KITAOKA Illusion Pages

If you print them out using a color printer, they work just as well as on-screen.
posted by rada at 11:28 AM on April 9, 2015

I find the King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise to be an auditory illusion. It sounds just like cicadas or some other insect. Watching it make the noise doesn't make it any more explicable.
posted by irisclara at 12:52 AM on April 10, 2015

Response by poster: Had this meeting tonight and it was a lot of fun.

-Girls all put holes in their hands with paper towel tubes (there was so much screaming, omg).
-Played the telephone game several times, the last few rounds got lost in fits of giggles.
-Got to feel like their arms were flying.
-Swore up and down blue lemonade was the most delicious until we blindfolded them.

If our meetings were longer I would have added the apple/pear/potato/jicama taste and smell test, but I knew we'd never have time for it.

Girls had a lot of fun. Can't believe none of them had played the telephone game before, that was a great suggestion.
posted by phunniemee at 7:15 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

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