This Bitter Be Good

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In this health and genetics activity, learners determine whether tasting the bitter compound PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) influences which vegetables a person likes. Learners conduct a blind taste test to study PTC sensitivity, compile the data, and evaluate the results.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • vegetable with PTC (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale)
  • vegetable without PTC (e.g. carrots, yellow/orange/red bell peppers)
  • knife and cutting board
  • paper towels
  • blindfolds
  • paper and pencils
  • PTC paper
  • water and/or juice


  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Biodiversity
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • Human Genetics
    • Human Body
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Taste
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • taste

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group
    • Acknowledges this group's contributions to STEM
    • Highlights STEM opportunities for this group
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2010

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0813519
  • ExxonMobil