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Kids' Science: Testing Taste Buds at 115th Street

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Medicine and Public Health - Exhibit on taste, Digital ID 1677771, New York Public LibraryOn Monday, March 25th, about 12 kids gathered in the picture book section of the children's room in the 115th Street Library to test their taste buds.

How much do we rely on our five senses? What information do we get from them that we might take for granted or just don't notice? How do they work together to give us a more complete picture of our world and surroundings? The experiment intended to explore just that.

The task was simple: Can you tell the difference between a raw potato and an apple?

A quick survey before we began revealed a high level of confidence among the participants.

But of course there would be a catch. What if you could only rely on your taste buds? For this experiment the kids would be blindfolded so they couldn't see what they were eating. They'd also hold their noses so they wouldn't be able to smell the food.

I asked the question again. The confidence in the room remained high.

As the kids took turns sampling the ambiguous pieces of food, their guesses were surprisingly accurate.

However, because they couldn't see and their sense of taste was compromised the children adapted quickly. Instead they began to rely on the texture of the produce itself rather than its taste. In this way they were still able to tell the difference. Ingenious!

Still, they all learned just how our perceptions and experiences change when we alter or stifle any of our five senses.

Unsurprisingly, once their senses of sight and smell were restored the plate of raw potato sat untouched while the apples quickly disappeared.

What do you think, could you guess correctly?

And check out our science resources for kids, too! Here are some of the titles we carry at the branch.

Come in and browse or put one on hold!

Kids' Science is held every other Monday at 4:30 p.m. in the Children's Room of the 115th Street Library. For ages 5 to 12. Check out the schedule to see what we'll be experimenting with next!

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