Sense of Taste

From: Karen Kalumuck (
Date: Thu Oct 11 2001 - 12:22:03 PDT

Hello, Amber,

I am the originator of the lesson "Sense of Smell" and would like to
address the questions and issues you raised with Snack Talk:

Hello, I am a senior in college studying elementary education. I recentl=
> y used a lesson plan from this site titled Sense of Smell. I had to teac=
> h this lesson to a group of fellow future educators. Everyone loved this=
> exercise, however, my professor disputed some of the information in the =
> What's Going On section. My professor (PhD) said that taste is influenc=
> ed by smell but no scent molecules travel up to the olfactory organ throu=
> gh a back door (the passage at the back of the throat). I really liked t=
> his activity and felt that it taught the lesson effectively, but I do not=
> want to present inaccurate information to my students. Please help me r=
> esolve this theoretical conflict. What sources were used to compile this=
> lesson? What are the credentials of Karen Kalumuck? What fact-checking=
> procedure is followed before a lesson is posted on this website? Thank =
> you for your time. Sincerely, Amber Hardin

You professor is mistaken. Two world-reknown taste researchers consulted
with me on this activity, and other taste activities that I have developed;
Dr. Thomas Finger at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, and
Dr. Linda Bartoshuck, a faculty member in the department of Surgery at Yale
University School of Medicine. In fact, on Monday Oct. 8 I was at a
conference in which Dr. Bartoshuck was a presenter, and some of her current
research does encompass this phenomenon, which technically is called
"retronasal olfaction".

If you or your professor would like further information, you may contact me
directly, or I can put you in touch with one of the researchers mentioned

Regarding your other questions, I, like several of my colleagues, have
doctorates in science (mine is in Genetics/Molecular Biology) and worked as
practicing scientists and college professors for years before venturing
into the informal science arena at the Exploratorium. I can tell you that
we are very rigorous in putting out accurate science content on our web

I hope that this is helpful for you. Glad that you enjoyed the activity.


Karen E. Kalumuck, Ph.D.
Exploratorium Teacher Institute
3601 Lyon St.
San Francisco, CA 94123

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