How Do Chemicals in Processed Foods Affect Our Health?

Student: Elena Shen
Table: 10
Experimentation location: School
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No

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Source Used to Determine Whih Invertebrate Organisms to Use in Our Experiment:

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Research Plan:

Rationale: Today, processed foods are everywhere. Many foods have chemicals in them to make them taste better or look better or last longer. However, too much of these chemicals may lead to unhealthy side effects. This project explores the effects of chemicals in processed food on planaria, which can be used to find out the effects on humans.

Research Question: How do chemicals in processed foods affect our health?

Goals: To be able to conclude on and observe how the chemicals affect the planaria.

Expected Outcomes: The planaria that consumed the chemicals would be less healthy. When cut in half, they would regenerate slower.

Hypothesis: The group of planaria that consumed food contaminated by the different chemicals will regenerate slower, and will not grow to be as large or healthy as the control group.


  1. Prepare the materials: petri dishes for a habitat, jug of spring water for a habitat, sterile pipettes to transfer the planaria, MSG and food coloring as chemicals they’re being fed.
  2. Get the planaria from Princeton High School, put them into the 3 petri dishes: control, MSG, and food coloring. Each dish has 8 planaria.
  3. Feed each dish a small piece of hard-boiled egg yolk. The control group has a piece of egg yolk without anything added. The MSG planaria are fed a piece of egg yolk soaked in a 0.1% solution of MSG. The food coloring planaria are fed a piece of egg yolk soaked in a 0.1% solution of food coloring.
  4. After leaving the egg pieces in and letting the planaria feed for 30 minutes, the egg pieces are removed. The planaria are transferred to new dishes. Old dishes are washed, and the planaria will be transferred back during the next feeding.
  5. We will feed them 3 times in total, once a week.
  6. After the 3 feedings, we will transfer each planarian to its own petri dish, and cut all of them in half. We will continue observing, and see which ones regenerate and how fast.

Risk and Safety: Planaria can be very easily killed, so we need to be careful when taking care of and experimenting on them. We will transfer the planaria to a new petri dish after every feeding so the water doesn’t get too dirty. We will also make sure that the lids of the petri dishes are never too tightly closed, and that the planaria are always kept in a dark place.

Data Analysis:

  • We will track our observations in a spreadsheet. We will write observations about how well they are eating, if they are growing, and if any die.
  • After we cut the planaria in half, we will track our observations in a spreadsheet as well, noticing which ones are dying and which ones are regenerating, and how fast.

Questions and Answers

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