CATEGORY: 3-4, 5-6, STEMLinc

The Science of Smell

Course Access: Lifetime
Course Overview

STEMLinc Video Conferencing: Let Professor Noah Lott engage your students in the science of perfume and fragrance.  Students explore what smells are, how our noses work to detect them, and how we can categorise smells to help describe them.  (Image: Smelling a hibiscus  CREDIT: DENNIS WONG)

Year Level Suitability: 3 – 6

Duration:  1 hour

STEM in a box:

This program requires a class set of “smell kits” to perform 3 simple experiments.  There are 3 different smell kits per class, so students will be exposed to a broad variety of scents.

Background Information:

This program focuses on smells as gaseous phase substances.

Prior Knowledge:

This program focuses on smells as gaseous phase substances.  While this is not explicitly covered in the Yr 3-4 Science curriculum, students should be familiar with the three states of water from the water cycle in Earth’s weather.  This will be reinforced with a demonstration of ice melting then boiling in a test tube at the beginning of the lesson.  The program also focuses on experimental methods, including mention of fair tests and experimenter bias.  Given time constraints, these concepts are explained only briefly, so previous knowledge or discussion of these concepts would be helpful.

Learning Intentions:

In this program students will:

  • Learn that smells are a gaseous substance.
  • Our noses can detect how strong or faint a smell is.
  • There are ways of organising the world of smells into categories.


In this program students will:

  • Perform 3 different experiments to explore the nature of smells and the nose as a sensing organ
  • Interact with the presenter and other remote classes by answering questions and reporting on experimental results.
  • Have the opportunity to ask questions that arise in the course of the lesson.

Victorian Curriculum:

Level 3 – 4

Science – Chemical sciences

  • A change of state between solid and liquid can be caused by adding or removing heat (VCSSU059)

Science – Planning and conducting

  • Suggest ways to plan and conduct investigations to find answers to questions including consideration of the elements of fair tests (VCSIS066)

Science – Recording and processing

  • Use a range of methods including tables and column graphs to represent data and to identify patterns and trends (VCSIS069)

Science – Communicating

  • Represent and communicate observations, ideas and findings to show patterns and relationships using formal and informal scientific language (VCSIS072)

Level 5 -6

Science – Chemical sciences

  • Solids, liquids and gases behave in different ways and have observable properties that help to classify them (VCSSU076)

Science – Planning and conducting

  • With guidance, plan appropriate investigation types to answer questions or solve problems and use equipment, technologies and materials safely, identifying potential risks (VCSIS083)

IMPORTANT:  Cancellation Policy

  1. When you book you will receive an automated message from Eventbrite.  Save this carefully please.
  2. Any cancellations need to be received in time for STEMLinc to re-sell your tickets to other teachers.
  3. Please use the Eventbrite confirmation email to facilitate any cancellation of your booking.  That will automatically release your ticket for re-sale on our system.
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