The Science NetLinks team and other AAAS staff had an amazing and grueling three days at the incredible USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. We staged an exhibit called The Science of the Senses for an estimated 100,000 attendees. To us, it looked more like 1,000,000.
We had a Meet the Scientists stage, where scientists who study neuroscience and hearing, touch, taste, smell and vision gave short talks and answered questions. Cynthia Moss, a researcher who studies bat echolocation, brought a big brown bat with her (that's the variety: big brown bat). We had exhibits on hearing (auditory illusions), smell (we collected data on three different smells, and how people perceived them), touch, and vision.
We even had a jelly bean taste challenge that you can try at school to demonstrate how our perception of taste is mostly really smell: hold your nose, put a mystery jelly bean in your mouth and try to guess what flavor it is. You will probably only taste general sweetness, or maybe sour. Then release your nose. Now how much easier is it to guess the flavor? Attached is a pic from our station at the festival.
If you were not among the hoards who visited us in person, you can still learn about the senses at this fun collection page we've posted at Science Netlinks: