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Weekend Science Fun: Taste and Tongues

This weekend we were inspired by the book Animal Tongues by Dawn Cusick to do some some science experiments with our tongue and sense of taste.

1. Dry Tongues and Taste


  • a paper towel
  • some sugar

Normally your mouth is wet because of saliva. Let's see if the wetness has any impact on taste. Use the paper towel to dry your tongue. Once dry, keep your tongue sticking out. Pour a small amount of sugar on your tongue. Can you taste the sweetness? Bring your tongue into your mouth and allow the saliva to wet the sugar. How does it taste now?

Go ahead and try some other household items, like salt, saltine crackers, etc. What about wet items?

2. Smell versus Taste


  • blindfold
  • two flavors of ice cream, (or other type of food that tastes different, but has the same texture)
  • spoons
  • fresh cut lemon wedges

Ask volunteers to wear the blindfold. Hold the lemon under their nose. With the lemon still under their nose, ask them to taste samples of the two different flavors of ice cream. Can they tell the flavors accurately?

Expansion:  try to tell different foods apart with a blindfold on, while holding your nose.

Zoom at PBSKids has a way to create a tongue map, locating the areas that taste sweet, salty and bitter flavors.

If you think these activities are fun, try a few of the experiments at Neuroscience for Kids

I will be reviewing the book that inspired these experiments at my Wrapped In Foil blog.

Animal Tongues by Dawn Cusick

And here's a cool video of a flower fly using its tongue to feed in a dandelion flower.

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