Does hearing gum chewing increase stress in students?

Princeton High School
Princeton, New Jersey
DOI: 10.18258/14178
Raised of $649 Goal
Funded on 10/12/19
Successfully Funded
  • $650
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 10/12/19

About This Project

This study can help to uncover smaller stress factors that affect teens. Studying the effect of hearing gum chewing on student test scores and cortisol levels, a stress hormone, pertains to this topic. Cortisol levels show if hearing hum chewing causes stress. Comparing cortisol to scores informs if there is a correlation between the two variables. It is hypothesized that hearing gum chewing will significantly increase the stress levels of the students.

Ask the Scientists

Join The Discussion

What is the context of this research?

Teens' brains are very responsive to stress hormones (i.e. cortisol). Measuring salivary cortisol shows the stress of daily life, one being noise. Gum chewing is one of these stressors, and little is known of the effect on students hearing gum chewing. In one study, cortisol levels increased with participants who heard 90dBA noise, compared to the control. Other researchers were able to measure cognitive ability and cortisol, showing that higher cortisol levels correspond to worse scores on manufactured tests. So, connecting these topics, noise can trigger cortisol levels to rise, and cortisol levels rising can impact test scores negatively. This research inspired this proposed study, as similar procedures have been adapted to fit the high school classroom setting.

What is the significance of this project?

There is a growing rate of anxiety among teens, so finding sources of stress is imperative when looking for solutions to these issues. Students spend a lot of time stressing over school work, in and out of the classroom. Identifying smaller stressors that contribute to this "snowball effect" of anxiety may be as or more helpful than just identifying one main contributor to school stress. Misophonia is a condition involving noise and stress, where people have a negative autonomic response to certain noises. This condition can cause decreased academic performance. Perhaps gum chewing, which many people find bothersome, might have the same effect on stress and performance in school. If the hypothesis is supported, it is a simple and easy way to reduce classroom stress.

What are the goals of the project?

This research will occur during the school year, after materials have arrived. 24 students in an accelerated biology class will be given a short quiz. On this quiz day, students will separate into control and experimental groups. Salivary samples will be taken from students before and after the test. For the experimental group, a student uninvolved in the experiment will pretend to take the test while chewing gum with their mouth open. Salimetrics Assay Kits will be used to quantize the samples. A spectrophotometer will measure absorbance of light through samples. Data will be sorted into the experimental group versus control, comparing test scores and cortisol. Standard error as well as t-tests will be used. The data will be graphed in bar graphs.


Please wait...

To incentivize the experiment for high school students, each student will be given candy for completing the study. For 24 participants, a few pieces of candy will be given, so a $10.00 bag of candy will be needed.

One Salimetrics ELISA kit has already been obtained, so only two more must be bought from the Salimetrics website. One kit costs about $250.00. The passive drool collection kits, also on the Salimetrics website, each cost $108.00 and contain 50 collection tubes each; so one must be purchased in order to collect the 48 samples needed for this experiment. In order to store these tubes in a freezer one $6.50 cryostorage box is needed from Salimetrics.

Deionized water is used in the washing of the plate with the assay and will also be used in dilution of the assay diluent (in order to have enough substance for the cuvette). A liter costs about $25.00, and can be purchased on The total cost needed would be roughly $649.00

Endorsed by

As a high school teacher I see the rise in student stress first hand. Susannah has worked hard to develop a controlled experiment that can ultimate contribute to the betterment of student mental-health.

Project Timeline

Collecting salivary samples for before and after the quiz will occur all on the day of the quiz, in the ten minutes before and after the quiz. These samples will then be stored at 4ÂșC for no longer than one week. During this week the ELISA assay procedure will be followed, as well as the spectrophotometry. When the data from the spectrophotometer has been collected for all samples, the following four weeks will be used for statistical analysis of different relationships within the research.

Aug 28, 2019

Project Launched

Sep 01, 2019

Update backers every week on data collection, other research, and progress

Sep 30, 2019

Order supplies

Nov 04, 2019

Saliva collection and quiz, data collection

Nov 05, 2019

Salimetrics ELISA assay procedure

Meet the Team

Susannah Tuder
Susannah Tuder

Susannah Tuder

I am a student of Princeton High School in New Jersey, partaking in the school's three-year research program. I am interested in biological psychology, specifically regarding anxiety and misophonia (a disorder sometimes coupled with anxiety).

Project Backers

  • 11Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $650Total Donations
  • $59.09Average Donation
Please wait...