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Tongue taste maps and taste science


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We are doing Adventures in MFW. The science book talks about the taste map of the tongue. However, in doing some research, it seems as though scientists have decided that there really aren't specialized areas of the tongue. I looked at a bunch of different scientific sites. I taught ds the map and told him that this is what some people have learned, but scientists have found out otherwise (with explanation). Also, there are supposed to be five tastes now (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami). This goes against the book. Am I right in teaching the current science in this case?


Also, we watched two Nova shows talking about taste. They had a test strip that can be put on the tongue to see if a person is a "taster" or "non-taster". Apparently, people where not created equally when it comes to taste buds some do not have receptors for bitter (no-tasters), some have some of the receptors (tasters), and others have a lot of them (super tasters). I found that interesting and thought I would share. My family makes fun of my picky eating, and now I have a reason why. ;)


Nova: The Science of Picky Eaters



Nova: Can I Eat That



Test strips can be ordered on Amazon.com:


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I am no expert, but I have also read that the tongue map is technically inaccurate.


I think what you've done is great and is one of the great things about homeschooling. Often it takes a while for new discoveries to make it into textbooks and for incorrect items to be removed. What your DS has seen, though, is you doing your own research and learning of the topic. Also, he gets to see the nature of the body of science - that we do not know everything and some things that are out there can be disproven or shown to be more complicated than initially thought, etc. I think this type of education is good for building an inquisitive and discerning mind.


Actually, the further you go in science the less you use textbooks! In graduate school I bought one textbook. All my other courses used primary literature, articles published by scientists, to teach the material. What they wanted us to learn was how to read critically and how to find the information we needed. Your exercise gives a good intro to that process!


Thanks for the resources! They look great!


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