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Sense of Smell Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Homemade apple pie. Garlic bread with butter. Can you imagine those smells? Smell is a very powerful sense, and this lesson will teach you all about how your sense of smell works.

Oh That Smell

The sense of smell is one of the five main senses that humans use to experience the world. Think about all those wonderful smells that make your mouth water. The smell of mom baking brownies or of those amazing waffle cones being made at the ice cream parlor. But not all smells are good ones. Have you ever smelled a skunk? Or what about the smell that hits your nose after your dog has gone to the bathroom?

Think about the process of smelling. Something has to give off a smell, then that smell has to enter our noses and then somehow makes it to our brains. It might seem like magic, but it's actually a pretty complex process.

Our noses have a special way to tell our brains what something smells like.
Smell Flower

How it Works

Let's look at fresh baked cookies. When the cookies are sitting on the tray on the stove, they are actually emitting tiny scent molecules that contain the smell we know and love. Now, we can't see those molecules with our eyes, so for now let's imagine they look like tiny cookie men floating through the air. There are billions of those little cookie men floating in all directions away from the cookies, but we can't see them because they are too small. They spread out, which is why you can smell those cookies in every room in the house.

If you could image that the steam from this coffee was the smell molecules, they would spread out from the cup and enter our noses.
Smell Coffee

Once those cookie men molecules get to your nose, they enter and climb up inside. At the back of your nose are tiny little hairs called cilia. Those little hairs are responsible for catching the little cookie scent molecules.

Once they catch the little guys, the cilia send a signal to our brains through our smell factory, called the Olfactory Nerve. Our smell factory can actually detect thousands of different smells. Our brains receive the signal from the Olfactory Nerve and translate it into what we know as smell.

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