Question Sheet: Chew for Health


Before reading:

  1. What is your favorite type of gum? Why? 
  2. Why do teachers not let students chew gum in school? 
  3. What might convince them to change the rule against gum in school?

During reading:

  1. What does the article mean when it calls gum “functional”? 
  2. What ingredients were used to make the first gums? 
  3. What ingredients are in gum now? 
  4. Name two ways that gum might fight cavities. 
  5. Why is the military interested in Stay Alert? 
  6. Why are scientists trying to put medicine into gum?

After reading:

  1. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side, write

    down all the reasons that chewing gum can be good. On the other, write down all

    the reasons that chewing gum might be harmful. 

  2. What are some things that make it difficult to add medicine to gum? 
  3. Gum comes in many different textures, flavors, and shapes. Do all types of

    gum cause an equal amount of saliva production? How would you design an

    experiment to see which gum increases the saliva the most? 

  4. What is tree resin? Compared to your favorite kind of gum, how would gum

    that’s made from tree resin taste and feel? 

  5. The article mentions that some scientific studies about gum have involved

    few people who volunteered to chew gum. Is it possible that scientists would

    have come to different conclusions about gum if those studies had been larger

    and involved more people? If you were a scientist, why would you want many

    people to participate in a study?


People sometimes stick gum in places where it can make a mess. Gum isn’t allowed in many buildings and even some whole countries because it can be so messy. Do you think government should worry about that? Why or why not? Figure out the name of a country that bans gum.


Imagine that your favorite magazine needs an article or an advertisement about a brand-new kind of gum that contains an important medicine. Write that article, or design that advertisement.


Pretend you are running a scientific study about chewing gum. The first nine people whom you test have, on average, 40 percent more blood flow in their brains when they are chewing gum than when they are not chewing gum. Imagine that you test a tenth person, and chewing gum has no effect (a zero-percent change) on blood flow in her brain. Counting all ten people, what is the average effect of chewing gum, as a percentage increase in blood flow in the brain?