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Map Your Taste Buds

Your tongue contains tiny taste buds that help you taste everything. People are born with about 10,000 taste buds that can detect sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavors. Try the following experiment to see where the different taste buds are located!

5 small cups, masking tape, pen or pencil, several toothpicks, sugar, salt, vinegar, unsweetened grapefruit juice (or very strong unsweetened tea), paper towels, a parent or grandparent


1. Get your parentsí permission!

2. Draw a tongue-shaped diagram on a piece of paper.

3. Use your pencil and tape to label the five cups: SWEET, SOUR, BITTER, SALTY, WATER

4. Measure 1/4 tsp. of the following ingredients into separate cups: sugar, salt, vinegar, and unsweetened grapefruit juice or tea.

5. Add 1 Tbsp. of water to each of the cups and fill the fifth cup with plain water.

6. Lay out four toothpicks.

7. Have a parent dip a toothpick in the sweet solution and touch it to various areas on your tongue. When you taste the sweetness in any spot, make a small x on your tongue diagram in the same spot.

8. Rinse your mouth completely with the plain water.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with the other mixtures. Use a different symbol on your tongue diagram to represent the different mixtures.