Potatoes and Apples-The Senses

Potatoes and Apples

Did you know that about 75% of the perceived taste in our mouth comes from our sense of smell? The little taste buds on our tongues can detect whether or not a food is salty, sour, bitter, or sweet. It’s the tiny odor particles that travel to the olfactory receptors that give us a better sense of what we’re eating; not our taste buds. For instance, did you ever notice that when you have a stuffy nose you can’t taste your food very well? That’s because when your nose is stuffy it blocks that chemical pathway leading to the receptors that are located at the top of the nasal cavity.

For this project, your going to try and better understand how your sense of taste works.

Items Needed:

Small pieces of raw apple
Small pieces of raw potato
Two small containers
Pen and paper
Bandana or blindfold
An assistant

Safety: The potatoes and apples should be peeled and cut into small squares. Please have an adult do this.

Research Questions:

1. When you taste the apple, can you locate where your “sweet” taste buds are?
2. When you eat a piece of potato, can you classify which taste the potato falls under? Sweet, salty, bitter, or sour.
3. Under normal circumstances, do a potato and an apple taste the same, or do they taste different to you? Describe how each one tastes.
4. When you plug your nose, do the potato and the apple taste the same to you? Describe how they taste.
5. Consider questions 3 and 4. Do you think that an apple and a potato taste differently when your nose is plugged? Explain how the food tastes are different when your nose is plugged and unplugged.


1. Once the apple and potato pieces are cut, place them into separate bowls or containers.
2. With your eyes covered, ask your assistant to hand you a piece one of the two pieces of food. Apple or potato. They’re not allowed to tell you which. Make sure your assistant writes down which one they’re handing you.
3. Plug your nose. (pinch your nostrils closed with two fingers) After placing the food into your mouth, roll the food over the taste buds on your tongue. See if the food tastes differently in certain spots on your tongue. Ask your assistant to write down your observations.
4. With nose still plugged, chew up the food and explain how it tastes. Have them write this down as well.
5. Make your best guess and choose which one you are eating.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 with the other type of food.
7. Repeat steps 1-5 again using the first type of food, but this time do not plug your nose.
8. Repeat steps 1-5 with the second piece of food used, again, not plugging your nose.
9. For a science fair project, have both potato and apple pieces set out for people to participate with. Blindfold them and let them be part of the presentation.

Background Research:
Explore the 5 senses. Hearing, smell, taste, touch, and sight.
Research the taste buds.
Explore and explain the primary tastes.
Research mouth and nasal anatomy.

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