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Science Rocks!

Taste V. Smell


your results

Sent in by:
Tina and Natalia of Gaithersburg, MD

There's NOse accounting for taste! Or is there?

Materials Needed

  • small cups
  • cotton swabs
  • different foods with similar textures (the ZOOMers compared ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and maple syrup.)
  • pen and paper for charting



  1. Check with a grown-up before you get started to make sure it's okay to taste some different foods in your house.
  2. Ask a friend to help. One of you will be the taster and the other the tester, but you can switch at the end so both of you will get a chance to taste.
  3. Draw a chart for recording your results. Write the name of each food you are testing in separate rows along the left side. Draw two columns for each taster. Label each column with the taster's name and "unplugged" or "plugged."
  4. Make some predictions about which foods will be easier and harder to identify. Will it be easier or harder to taste the foods with your nose plugged or unplugged?
  5. Blindfold the taster or just have her close her eyes.
  6. The tester then puts a little bit of one food on the taster's tongue with a cotton swab.
  7. The taster tries to identify which food she's tasting as well as whether it is salty, bitter, sweet or sour.
  8. The tester records the taster's answers on the chart for each food she tastes.
  9. When the taster has tried all the foods blindfolded, have her taste them each again but with her nose plugged as well. (Make sure you have her taste the foods in a different order.)
  10. Once the taster has tried each food with her nose plugged, switch who tastes and who tests and go through it all again.
  11. When you've both had a chance to taste, compare your results.

Which way was more challenging, with just eyes closed or with nose plugged too? Were certain foods especially hard or easy to taste? Try it again with crunchy foods or liquids and be sure to send your results to ZOOM!
Are you hot on the scent of the sci scoop? Here's how this works: A lot of what we think is taste is actually smell. That's why, when your nose is plugged, you can't taste some of the foods. It's because you can't smell what you are tasting.

Some of your Results

Trinity, age 11 of Laurel, MD wrote:
Well, I tried it and I got them all right except for the mayonaise because I dont really like mayo. then tried honey and donut and other sweet stuff and I guessed right and I can imagine why!

Christopher, age 8 of Midland, TX wrote:
well smell won

Selena, age 11 of Brookline, MA wrote:
They did this at my school carnival and when I was tested here were my results. I got 3 out of 6 without my nose plugged and 0 out of 6 with it plugged. It was fun guessing and fun to do.

Emmi, age 12 of IN wrote:
I had so much fun when I did this! My bro, dad, and I did it together. I had a really hard time telling apart ketchup and BBQ sause with my nose pluged!

Kara, age 8 of Indianapolis, IN wrote:
When I had my nose plugged I got them all right and when I didn't have my nose plugged I got none right.

Andrew, age 5 of Marina, CA wrote:
First, I tasted something and I didn't know what it was and I thought it smelled like chicken nuggets. Then, I figured out it was ketchup. It was sweet and salty. Next I tasted honey and it was sweet. I also tasted soy sauce and worcestershire sauce and they were salty and a little spicy. Finally, I tasted some hot sauce and lime juice. One was spicy and the other one was bitter and sour.

Olivia, age 12 wrote:
it was easy to set up and fun to do! it was much easier when you had your nose plugged but.. it was harder too with the blind fold but all in all I thought it was much fun to do again!

Amanda, age 13 of Bronx, NY wrote:
The first time I did it without my nose plugged and I got it right away and when I did it with my nose plugged it was harder to make out the food.

Chyla, age 12 of McDonough, GA wrote:
When I did the experiment I got 3 our of 6 right with out my nose plugged and then I got 1 out of 6 with it plugged. Then when my friend did it he got the same results.

Lisa, age 13 of Michigan City, IN wrote:
When I did it it was really hard because when you didn't have your nose plugged you could smell for example the orange juice but then whwen you had to plug your nose it was really hard because it was a little harder. Because smell has a lot to do with taste.

Kirsten, age 12 of New York, NY wrote:
well I did my thing a littel difernt I used lolie pops insted. I had them smell it ferst and see what they thought it was. I put y if they were right and n if they didnt get it right.

Mackenzie, age 9 of Cleveland, OH wrote:
well I taste the lemonade but I really thinks its sour yuck but I added shugar I smelled it but its the purfect sents of smell I love senses you can do it to bye

Meg, age 11 of Simsbury, CT wrote:
When I did with my dad I used Maple Syrup, Mustard, BBQ Sauce, and Salad Dressing. With his nose unplugged he was able to figure out every taste, but when I had him plug his nose he couldn't figure them out as quickly.

Angeles, Yesenia, & Arturo of IL wrote:
We Tested it On One girl and One boy. Then we got the different objects and tested them. The one that got it right was the girl:)

Kayla, age 15 of Mcconnelsville, OH wrote:
The person I tested got 2 out of 6 with their nose pluged and 0 out of 6 with it plugged

Jake, age 13 of Lancaster, KY wrote:
I only got two right. the mustered and ketchup

Haley, age 12 of Leipsic, OH wrote:
My friend doesn't have such a good sense of taste! Averytime, she thought it was something different! LOL

Isabella of West Des Moines, IA wrote:
We ued liquids: vanilla extract, cranberry juice, soy milk, tomato soup, and maple syrup. I got all of them except the vanilla & tomato soup. It tasted really weird.

Gabriela & Jasmine of London, ENG wrote:
we used ketchup, mustard, cherry filling, apple chutney, sweet and sour sauce, and strawberry yogurt. we could recognize all of them.

Caitlyn, age 12 of Wappinger Falls wrote:
my conclusion was that when your nose is plugged things taste way different then they normaly do

Shad, age 13 of Provo, UT wrote:
I really think that smell has a lot to do with taste.

Denise, age 12 of Chicago, IL wrote:
me and my friend did it for a science project and we did it with chocolate syrup and strawberry syrup !!!

Ebony, age 13 of Chicago, IL wrote:
My tongue begin to have a sweet taste which made it hard for me to taste the other products.

Marisha, age 12 of Nashville, TN wrote:
I really could tell the difference between them all except ketchup. THAT WAS HARD!

Courtney, age 10 of Clarksville, TN wrote:
I could only find my sweet and sour spots on my tong sweet in the back sour in front. It was weird is all of you like that my brother is much diffrent than I am I realy wonder why?

Madison, age 8 of Phoenix, AZ wrote:
I smelled vanila when eating apple and it tasted like vanila.

Linda & Shantay of E. Orange, NJ wrote:
I found out that when we saw the results the smell was better.

Alycyana, age 15 of Cleveland, OH wrote:
I found out that by smellin it you can guess wat it is but 9 times out of 10 you got to taste it.

Ciara & Crystal of Mesquite, TX wrote:
We kept getting the ketchup, mustard, and the bbq sauce mixed up but the syrup was easy.

not yet implemented