Senses: Flavor Detectives (SOL 1.1, 2.1, 3.1 & 4.1)

Teacher Name: Gemma GriffinGrade Level: 1-4
Subject: Science
Time Frame: 55 min
Concept: Food Chemistry
Topic: Chemical senses: taste and smell

Rationale: Students need opportunities to question and explore the world around them they find both interesting and meaningful to become better problem solvers, critical thinkers and contributors to society. Practice with predicting, observing, and drawing conclusions through hands-on inquiry lessons provide this for children..Goals: The student will make predictions, observations and conclusions.
The student will understand the relationship between the sense of smell and taste.

SOL: Science:

1.1 – The student will plan and conduct investigation in which differences in physical properties are observed using the senses.

2.1 – The student will plan and conduct investigations in which conditions that influence a change are defined.

3.1 – The student will plan and conduct investigations in which predictions and observations are made; and inferences are made and conclusions are drawn.

4.1 – The student will plan and conduct investigations in which variables that must be held constant in an experimental situation are defined.



The student will be able to define a purpose and make a prediction, in writing, about a given experiment. See checklist for recording sheet.

The student will be able to infer a conclusion, in writing, based on observations drawn during an experiment. See checklist for recording sheet.

The student will be able to identify a variable during an experiment that changes the outcome of the experiment, evidenced in their written conclusion. See recording sheet checklist.


The student will be to be aware that certain chemical properties of their bodies, the sense of taste and touch, affect their perceptions of outside materials, food, evidenced by conclusion drawn from experiment. See recording sheet checklist.


The student will be able to make observations using their senses of taste and smell, evidenced by written observations recorded in their journal. See recording sheet checklist.


5 flavors of jelly beans
1 cup
1 glass of water
Recording sheets (Zap! Blink! Taste! Think! p.19-21)
Content Page (Zap! Blink! Taste! Think! p. 167-168)
Advanced Organizer:

How do we taste food? Which of the senses/parts of our body allows us to taste food?

(Most students will answer only with taste and mouth.)

Ask students if they think any other sense or body part has any effect on how food tastes to us.

Tell them they are going to be “Flavor Detectives”, and see what effect the nose has on our sense of taste.

Procedures & Activities:

1. Have students complete the purpose and write their prediction of the outcome on the record sheet. (The purpose is to try to find out the effect of the sense of smell on our ability to taste food.)

2. Allow each student to eat a jelly bean of each color, one at a time, and agree with their pattern on the name of each flavor. Complete the Color/Flavor Key on the record sheet. The flavors should be clear to you at this point.

3. Collect two jellybeans of each color in one small cup, ten in all, and mix them up. In a moment you will be taking out beans without looking and handing them to your partner.

4. Have your partner, now called the subject, close their eyes. Your partner is to keep their eyes closed until they taste all ten jelly beans. Hand him or her a jelly bean to taste, writing the color on the record sheet as you hand it to him. When he or she tells you what flavor he thinks he tasted, record that , and put a check under “correct” or “incorrect” on the record sheet. Your partner should take a drink of water between each flavor. Do not let your partner know if he or she was right or wrong. Count only trials that are done properly. Do not change flavor decisions once they have been written down.

5. Reverse roles, and repeat steps 3 and 4.

6. Now have your partner close their eyes again and hold their nose firmly closed!!! Hand him beans as you did before, noting the color and “correct” or “incorrect” without giving any feedback. This round is the experimental group.

7. Reverse roles and repeat step 6.

8. Tally the number correct. (More advanced students may tally percent correct as well. To find the percent, divide the number correct by the number of tries and multiple the answer by 100.)

9. Compare the number correct when your nose was not closed, and the number correct when you had to hold your nose and taste the jelly beans.


Talk with students about sources of error. Were all trails done fairly? Did either subject have a cold or let air through the nose?

Have student write a conclusion to the experiment on whether or not the sense of smell has any effect on our taste detection.


See Rubric for “Flavor Detective” Recoding sheet.