The Investigation Of The Taste Buds

Ola Jean McGehee Yale Elementary
7025 So.Princeton
Chicago IL 60621


(Adaptable to grade levels 1-2)
Students should identify salty, sour, bitter, and sweet tastes.
Students will investigate the sense of taste.
Students will investigate that taste buds are not uniformly distributed over
the tongue.


Cotton swabs (sterile), drinking cups (disposable), 4 beakers (400ml), water,
sugar, baking soda, vinegar, salt, tooth picks, mirror and marking pencils.


Start by giving the students a background of the concept to be developed.
Taste and smell are connected. Odors that pass from the mouth to the nose are
detected and become a part of a food's flavor. Taste is affected by the texture
and temperature of food. Taste buds help you taste the things you eat. A taste
bud is a small structure that is sensitive to taste. There are four types of
taste buds - sour (acid), sweet, salty, and bitter.
PART-I. Go over the procedure to be used in preparing and tasting the
solutions. Caution students to follow sterile procedures. A cotton swab or
toothpick should be used for tasting a solution and then immediately thrown into
a trash container. Each student should use a new swab for each taste. Be
certain the beakers or glasses used to hold the solutions are washed and have
been cleaned.
PART-II. Prepare the solutions using the clean beakers. Label the beakers
with the solutions A, B, C, and D.
PART-III. Dip a sterile cotton swab into solution A. Run the swab over your
tongue. Record the taste of the solution in your chart. Rinse your mouth with
water. Discard the swab. Using a new swab each time, repeat the procedure for
solutions B, C, and D. Record your results.
Dip your cotton swab in the solutions. Touch various areas of the tongue.
Use a mirror to help locate the most taste - sensitive areas of the tongue.

Performance Assessment:

After the taste demonstration, unknown food products (two types of cheeses)
are passed out. Students will keep their eyes closed and use a nose plug in
order to distinguish taste. Then release the nose plug and determine the
difference in taste, when they are able to smell. These differences should be
recorded by each student.


The conclusion will be based on the results and students' interpretation. The
sense organ for taste is the tongue. In the tongue are groups of nerve endings
called tasted buds. When you chew food, tiny bits of it enter the taste buds
through openings in the tongue. Taste buds for each of the four tastes are
located in different areas of the tongue. Taste buds that respond to sweetness
are on the tip of the tongue. Some of the taste buds for saltiness are also
there. At the sides of the tongue are located the taste buds for sourness.
Taste buds for bitterness are at the back of the tongue.

This would be a useful multicultural activity, because it relies on
participation rather than discussion.


Home, E., Alexander, J. and Edward V. A Sourcebook for Elementary Science.
Chicago: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1971.
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