Hershey Company Employee Enriches MHS Students with Sensory Science During YRE
Kate Mobley, Sensory Research Scientist at The Hershey Company, held a two-part sensory science class for Milton Hershey School (MHS) students as part of this summer’s Year-Round Experiences programming.
Due to coronavirus safety guidelines, Mobley was not able to attend the series in person, however, she created a pre-recorded instructional video for MHS students participating.
“This was a perfect opportunity to share some of my interests—food science and sensory science,” Mobley said. “The series showcased practical and relatable scientific fields; we interact with food and use our five senses on a daily basis.”
Part one of the series was an introduction to food sensory science. MHS students received a brief overview of the history of sensory science, saw what a typical lab looks like, and learned what types of instruments and tools sensory scientists use.
Students also tested and evaluated chips through a popular testing method used in the industry—the triangle test. They sampled three chips and relied on their senses to identify which chip was different from the group. Students learned how much we rely on all of our senses when we eat.
Part two of the series took a deeper look into the sense of taste and smell, and how they work together to play an integral role in flavor perception. Students smelled and tried to identify six different unlabeled food flavors such as mint, citrus, and maple. They quickly discovered that it is more difficult to identify flavors when you do not see the actual food item or have the opportunity to taste it.
“From this series, I hope the students learned a little more about what sensory science is, and that the five senses have an influential role in our likes and preferences for different food products,” Mobley said.
Many companies, like The Hershey Company, value what consumers think about their products.
“Sensory scientists use their knowledge about food and people to find out what consumers like and prefer so that we can better understand our products and adapt to a changing market,” Mobley said.
As one of the Hershey entities, The Hershey Company supports MHS financially through corporate profits. The Hershey entities also actively engage with MHS students through participating in curriculum like Mobley, or through Project Fellowship, a specific Hershey entities program which partners employees with an MHS student home.