Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#3802. Tasteless Foods: A Focus on the Brain and the Senses

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Sun Sep 10 20:24:10 PDT 2006 by Meghan Webb (
Marshall University, Huntington, Wv
Materials Required: Noted in Lesson
Activity Time: Varies
Concepts Taught: senses of the human body and classification of objects

Tasteless Foods:
A Focus on the Brain and the Senses

Focus Group: Grade 4

Setting: Classroom

Goal of Lesson: To investigate how the sense of smell affects the sense of taste.

Objectives of Lesson:
1. classify the five senses of the human body and how they affect our everyday lives,
2. describe how the sense of smell affects the sense of taste,
3. classify the five types of tastes,
4. describe the different tastes and textures of the substances under observation.
Alignment with WV CSO's:
SC.4.2.2 recognize that developing solutions to problems requires persistence, flexibility, open-mindedness, and alertness for the unexpected.
SC.4.3.5 given a set of events, objects, shapes, designs, or numbers, find patterns of constancy or regularity.
SC.4.4.9 investigate how properties can be used to identify substances.

Materials: Blindfold, Nose Plug, Partner, Samples of Bitter, Sour, Salty, Sweet, and Umami Foods, Butcher Paper, Markers, and Equal Size Pieces of an Apple, Potato, Onion, and Jicama.

Safety Concerns: The blindfold that is used in this activity should be disposed of after each use to prevent spreading of certain diseases.

1. Pre-assessment:
A. What are your five senses?
You five senses include: smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing.
B. How is your sense of taste and smelling related?
Much of what we think of as taste is actually smelled. The back of your noise is linked to you mouth so you can smell your foods as you chew it.
C. What are the five types of taste?
The five types of taste are bitter, sour, salty, sweet, and umami.

2. Exploration:
Joke: How many scientists does it take to make a stink bomb?
Answer: A phew!

1. As a group the students will complete an activity that reinforces the pre-assessment questions. Each group will be given a large piece of butcher paper to trace the human outline of one person in their group. The students will label the five senses on this outline.
2. After the students have labeled this outline with the five senses, they will work together to classify the foods given into groups of bitter, sour, salty, sweet, and umami. Each group will write their results on the human outline paper.
3. After the students have completed this task, the teacher may divide the class up by giving each student a partner who will help them discover how your sense of smell affects your taste of food.
4. To begin this experiment, the student (assistant) should place a blindfold over their partner's eyes so that they cannot see the foods that they are about to taste. The partner must then place a plug over their partner's nose so that they are unable to smell the foods that they are about to eat. The assistant will then list to their partner the types of food that they are about to sample. Note: These samples will not be given in the order of which they were explained.
5. The assistant will then place one item into their partner's mouth at a time. The blindfolded student must try to guess what the food is based on only how it tastes. The assistant will write down their partner's response which will serve as an assessment at the end of this experiment.
6. Repeat this experiment until each student has had a chance to sample all of the foods with their senses impaired.

3. Concept Development:
The experiment will be repeated in the same format as before. Only this time, the students get a second chance to guess the foods by using their previously learned knowledge of the senses.

What other sense can they use to define the object that they are eating?
Answer: The students will be able to correctly guess the sample of the food that they are eating by only the texture. Even though the student's sense of taste and smell are hindered, they will be able to define the foods by the texture of it on their tongue

4. Concept Application:
Option 1: The teacher could give the students pictures of people doing something. The children would then have to define the senses that the person is using.

Option 2: The students could cut out foods from magazines and advertisements and classify these foods into the five taste groups.

5. Assessment/Evaluation:
1. List the five senses of the human body.
2. Use experiment results to discuss how your sense of smell affects your sense of taste.
3. List the five types of different tastes.
4. Associate each one of these tastes with a specific food.
Example: A lemon is sour.
5. Differentiate the different substances being eaten by using only the sense of touch on your tongue with defines texture.

6. Extension:
The students will be divided up into six groups. Five of these groups will be given a sense such as taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing. The other group will be given the different tastes such as bitter, sour, salt, sweet, and umami. These groups will be given a total five minutes to brainstorm and come up with as many things that are associated with these items.
For example: When I think of sight I think of: glasses, eyeballs, color of eyes, bright light, dim light, etc.

7. Integration:
*This lesson can be integrated into art because the students could create human features on their body outline that was used in the beginning of this lesson. The students may use different types of mediums to complete their work of art to make it look as realistic as possible.

*This lesson could be integrated into math because the students could chart the results of the class in bar graph, line graph, pictograph, etc.

*This lesson could be integrated into health because the students could learn about the nutritional values of the types of food that they sampled. They could also categorize the foods into the proper food groups in the food pyramid.

*This lesson could be integrated into geography/social studies because the students could explore what people in other countries eat.

Idea Take From:
The Everything Kids Science Experiment Book
By: Tom Robinson