The Effect of Light on Foods

Does light affect the rate at which foods spoil? Here's a project that's easy for the student that is looking for something at the high school level. The beauty of this project is that it can be as simple as complicated as you want to make it. You can throw in different kinds of light and different kinds of food and different temperatures and different amount of moisture in the air. When doing this experiment, much like any experiment, you want to isolate your variables as much as possible.

In its simplest form, the independent variable is the amount of light and the dependent variable is the spoilage rate. The easiest way to set up this experiment would be to utilize three to five lamps that are all exactly the same and then putting the same amount of a given food stuff on a plate, from exactly the same distance of each of the lamps. It is important to have multitudes of lamps so that your results cannot be skewed by random chance. Repeat this experiment with different levels of light, ranging from high to low, again with multitude of lamps. If you feel up to it, compare different types of light. Maybe there is a direct correlation among all types of light, be it incandescent, fluorescent, or natural. After the experiment is done, you'll run the numbers and graph them in a pretty chart so people can easily see your results.

While you won't win a Nobel prize for your contribution to food science, you may be able to earn a gold medal at your local science fair and at the very least, learn what that weird thing is that grows in your mom's eight-week-old potato casserole. And, as what always seems to be the case with science, any answers you discover will probably only lead to more questions, thus beginning a never-ending search for facts and scientific breakthroughs.