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The Science of Smell


NGSS Standards:


4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2

Crosscutting Concepts:

Systems and System Models

Transcript - The Science of Smell
Download PDF • 202KB

Why do foods smell the way that they do? A would-be chef goes on a quest to find out, after she loses the ability to smell. Molly Birnbaum, editor of America’s Test Kitchen Kids and host of the podcast, Mystery Recipe, navigates us through the olfactory organs and the startling chemistry of food. Join us to discover the science of smell, and how your nose helps you cook and taste.


You might take your sense of smell for granted. But it's tied to so many other parts of our experience of the world.

This TED-ed video is a great primer:

If you're really into smell, here's a conversation about smell from the World Science Festival.

There's lots going on in the world of smell science! Here's a few articles on new research:

How We Are Wired for Smell - Scientific American


The American Chemical Society has a great website of resources about all the chemistry that's present in food.


Molly is the host of a new podcast from America's Test Kitchen Kids called Mystery Recipe.

Mystery Recipe helps kids AND their grown-ups uncover the fun, fantastical, and fascinating sides of food. Each ingredient-themed episode builds to a grand finale: a mystery recipe cook-along. Get excited about cooking (and eating) by digging into the deliciously silly and unexpectedly educational. Hosted by Molly Birnbaum. A production of America's Test Kitchen Kids.

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