Does your nose really know?

Does your nose really know?

Be a smell scientist!

Now we've found out what a smell scientist does we've found not one, but two, smelly experiments you can do at home. You can be a smell scientist! You'll need the help of your friends and family to test these out, so round up some volunteers and get experimenting.

Experiment 1: How many smells can you smell?

What you need:

  • 10 items with different odours - try herbs, spices, leaves, candles, essential oils, socks
  • 10 containers
  • Blindfold in case the volunteer cheats!

How to:

  1. Blindfold your volunteer. Put the items in different containers.
  2. Let your volunteer smell all the items. Tell the volunteer what each odour is.
  3. Mix two of the items together. Can your volunteer correctly identify the two odours?
  4. Try mixing three or more odours together. Can your volunteer still identify each odour?

Smelly_106551274

Be a smell scientist!

Experiment 2: Can I eat this?

What you need:

  • 5 edible items with different odours
  • 5 inedible items with different odours
  • 10 containers
  • Blindfold in case the volunteer cheats!

How to:

  1. Blindfold your volunteer. Put the items in different containers.
  2. Let your volunteer smell the items. Can they identify which items are edible and which ones are inedible?

What's happening?

Our sense of smell varies from person to person. Some people are really good at telling different odours apart. Other people can't even tell what one odour is! The more odours that are mixed together, the harder it is to tell them apart. Some animals, such as dogs, are much better than us at distinguishing individual odours from a mixture of smells.

Our sense of smell is supposed to tell us what food is edible and what isn't. Were your volunteers able to tell which items were edible?

To find out more about our sense of smell, try our Nobody Nose quiz!

Curriculum information