|Using our sense of taste makes us so HAPPY! We celebrate our
holidays with foods that taste good to us, some SWEET, some SALTY, some
even slightly SOUR or BITTER, but mix these flavors together and our
As soon as, even before, we are born we already love sweet flavors which makes sense because sugars are the chemicals we need for energy and growth. We are born disliking bitterness, a protection against eating poisons. Then we learn to recognize sour and salty flavors as growing babies. We can even keep many tastes in our memory and know when food is spoiled (and not to be eaten) if the taste does not match what we remember.
We relish our taste discussion and the topics it raises....
Discuss the "tastes" of holidays by the foods we associate with them - Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, Passover. If we switched these tastes around how would we feel? Turkey on the Fourth of July? Hot dogs for Thanksgiving? Chocolate eggs for Christmas? What if we could not taste, then every meal and snack would taste the same. Does EVERYTHING we eat or drink have a taste? I wonder how my tongue turns black when I eat blueberries and how the color goes away? After all tongues are not washable, or are they? The saliva our mouths keep creating and swallowing (10,000 gallons in a lifetime!) does the cleaning and rinsing for us.
THE TASTE DETECTOR
The body organs used for tasting are the tongue and
the palate in the mouth, but the real detectors, which are found ON the
tongue, are the
taste buds. When you see bumps on your tongue don't think they
are taste buds, these bumps are called papillae and the taste
buds are inside each papillae, maybe a few or a few hundred buds
in each one. The flavor must be dissolved in your saliva before any
taste bud can handle it, then this flavor - let's say it's Mint
Chocolate Chip - gathers in tiny, tiny puddles in the bottom
of all these taste buds, the receptor taste cells detect the
flavor and send the "taste signal" for the mixture (presumably a
"GREAT ICE CREAM!" message) to the brain.
Look at your tongue with a magnifying mirror or check a friend's
tongue with a magnifying glass. You can see the tiny, bumpy papillae but
you'll have to imagine the taste buds.
TASTE TYPES CHARTING
With WARNINGS about tasting only those things the teacher indicates,
not sharing straws and using a fresh straw for each taste, try
The experimental level of difficulty can be increased by substituting samples which are mixtures, or greatly decreased by skipping the nose hold.
As a World Wide Web searching exercise, have students check the AMAZING ANIMAL SENSES web site for the tasting abilities of butterflies and bees, earthworms and flies, octopuses and pigs, and rabbits and snakes.
WHAT DAY IS IT?
Here's a tasteful story.
Scientists have measured the taste bud density of volunteers. They found that a person who is an "average taster" has about 184 taste buds per square centimeter of tongue - now that's a lot of tasting - but some people are "supertasters" with 425 buds per sq.cm. whereas those called "non-tasters" average just 96 buds per sq.cm.
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