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Activity

Fruit ripening smells

Summary: 
Use your sense of smell to identify fruits. Find out how the smell changes as fruits ripen.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Biology: Sensing, Organ Systems (4, 5, 6)
Science topic (2005 curriculum connection): 
Life Science: Characteristics of Living Things (grade K)
Life Science: Plant Growth and Changes (grade 3)
Materials: 
  • Containers that hide their contents, but allow smells to leave them (I poked holes in the caps of 50ml Falcon tubes, and made foil sleves to hide the contents, until they are slid down)
  • Ripe and unripe tomato in each of two containers
  • Ripe and unripe banana in each of two containers
  • Ripe and unripe strawberry in each of two containers
Procedure: 

Two tubes contain tomato, two tubes contain banana and two tubes contain strawberry.
Smell the tubes and find the pairs.

For each pair, one tube contains ripe fruit and one contains unripe fruit.
Can you smell which is ripe and which is unripe?

Check your smells by pulling the sleeve down off the tube.

What's going on?
As a fruit ripens it makes new chemicals that change its smell.
Ripe smells attract animals, which eat the fruit and spread the seeds.
Fruits also change colour as they ripen, also to attract animals.
What colour is your favourite fruit before and after it ripens?

Grades tested: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Teaching site: 
Van Dusen Botanical Garden