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Supertaster Kit - hBARSCI “Supertaster” Lab

Supertaster Kit - hBARSCI “Supertaster” Lab

Are you a “Supertaster?!”

This activity is designed to be used with hBARSCI's Supertaster Kit! Individual strip kits are also available on our website.

Materials Included:

100 Strips containing Phenylthiourea (PTC)
100 Strips containing Sodium Benzoate
100 Strips containing Thiourea
100 Strips containing NO chemical (Control)


Key Vocabulary:

  • Genotype: the specific genes found in DNA.
  • Phenotype: the physical expression of genes (examples: eye color; tasting ability).
  • Heredity: the passing of genetic information from parent to offspring.
  • Punnett Square: a method for determining the qualitative chances of offspring inheriting certain genes from their parents.


Introductory (Pre-Lab) Information:

Mammals, such as humans, have a unique sense that makes consuming certain substances pleasant and consuming other substances unpleasant – the ability to taste.  Special receptors in the taste buds on our tongues allow us to taste five different flavors – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savory).  Without this ability, Brussel sprouts would taste exactly the same as cupcakes!  Not only does taste make consuming food more interesting, but it also serves a purpose – it allows humans to determine the relative safety of what they plan to consume.  Toxic substances tend to be bitter in taste, so humans tend to avoid this particular flavor – not only do most people find this taste unpleasant, but they also have an aversion to it for evolutionary reasons – it can signify danger!

Just as humans have different levels of acuity in the senses of smell and sight, they also have differences in their ability to taste.  Approximately 25% of Americans are considered “supertasters” and, of this subset, people have varying levels of “supertasting” ability.  “Supertasters” are people who have the ability to taste the substance Phenylthiourea (PTC).  Some people cannot taste this substance at all and others taste it quite distinctly.  Whether or not a person is a supertaster (phenotype) is dependent on his/her genetics (genotype).  For the purposes of this experiment, the dominant supertasting gene will be represented as “S” and the recessive supertasting gene will be represented as “s.”  Based on the genetics involved, there are four basic types of tasters à normal tasters (no S or s), standard supertasters (__ s), recessive supertasters (ss), and dominant supertasters (S__).

To get the rest of the lab, here are PDFs of the instructions for the Super Taster Kit.

Full Version
Simplified Version (for younger audiences)


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