LIFESAVER TASTE TEST
This is a sweet way to discover the science of your senses and to learn
how a “blind” taste test works. It is also a thrill to go to “candy school” and memorize the colors and flavors of the Lifesaver hard candies. This is like controlled lab tests except that we only get data once instead of multiple times (too many candies).
HOW TO PRESENT IT TO YOUR GROUP:
1. Explain that scientists start with a theory (idea) and then conduct tests/experiments to see if the idea is true.
2. Your theory is that although you use your tongue to taste things, it is your nose that does most of the detecting of flavors.
3. The idea (hypothesis) is that your tongue can only sense sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors. It is your tongue that tastes more variety of flavors like fruits, chocolate and other flavors. You are going to test this idea by doing “blind” tests of Lifesaver candy.
4. Conduct “candy school” by telling them that they must first memorize the five flavors and colors of the candy. My students are always very attentive at this point. I hold each color and tell them the flavor and then we repeat with them telling me the flavor. Everyone is focused on passing with flying colors.
5. Assign groups of two (usually those sitting together). Tell them that one is going to be the “taster” first while the other is the “feeder,” then they will switch roles. Assure them that each will get a chance at both roles and see if they can come to an agreement as to who goes first.
6. Have the “taster” close their eyes so they don’t see the lifesaver color. They will then pinch their nose so they are only sensing through their mouth.
7. Have the “feeder” gently put the lifesaver on the front of the “tasters” tongue. Once the lifesaver color is hidden in their mouth, the “taster” can open their eyes but keep holding their nose.
8. Ask the questions: What do you taste? Do you taste any flavor? Do you taste sweet, salty, bitter, sour?
9. After the questions are asked the students let go of their nose and sense the difference in their ability to taste. Do they taste more flavor now?
10. Some students will see this as a guessing contest. Remind them that it is the taste experience that counts and not guessing the flavor “right.” Remind others not to give away the candy colors and flavors to the “tasters.”
11. Be sure that everyone gets a chance to be a “taster” and a “feeder.”
12. Students can eat the candy or spit it out into the trash.
This activity uses a blind taste test to illustrate the importance of recording data (in the form of responses) and making a statistical analysis by comparing multiple results. A show of hands gives a small statistical snapshot but the children should be aware of the need for hundreds of results to get a meaningful conclusion.