Science Fair Presentation

Philip Killgo and Ross Petersen


This Science Fair project was about testing the placebo effect.

The placebo effect (Also called the placebo response) is "a remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo -- a fake treatment, an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution -- can sometimes improve a patient's condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful." -

This means when people are given a substance and told it will have a certain effect, they may report experiencing this effect even if they were being lied to.

We asked people to drink from 2 different bottles of water. We told them one was tap water while the other the other was improved natural spring water. However, in reality, they were both the same. After they tasted both, we asked which they preferred and recorded their responses.


Our hypothesis was: When people are told a certain sample of tap water is better ("natural spring water"), they will think it tastes better another sample of tap water. The experiment itself was basic and simple. We asked people we know to participate, and they drank the 2 cups of water. After, we asked for any observations they had. However, the results and some of the observations surprised us, despite the hypothesis.


Big image
48% Yes
26% No
26% No preference

Participant Observations

Nearly half of the 50 people who participated preferred the "better" water. Some of the participants told us their observations:
  • 2nd sample feels smoother
  • 2nd sample had a weird after-taste
  • They really did taste different, even though they are the same

The participants were also mostly either suspicious or could tell they were the same water, despite what was told to them

Final Thoughts

This simple experiment was effective, as it backed up the placebo effect. It may not fool everyone, but most people will believe something, like water, is better than something else. The results showed this, as 48% of the participants agreed the "natural spring water" tasted better.