Introduction: Forensics for Kid - Scent

Picture of Forensics for Kid - Scent

In this experiment, you will use your nose to help identify scents or fragrances of ordinary household products. Similar to the way dogs might detect foods or explosives at the airport. Chemist use an instrument such as a gas chromatograph to help separate and identify specific compounds which is useful in all areas of your life. In this case I'm am relating it to trace analysis in forensics.

This experiment is designed for kids and people that may not be able to grasp the names of molecules and formulas in a short amount of time but will readily recognize the concept of identifying specific components of things that smell.

This activity was developed in response to a recent camping trip that informed visitors to place food and scented objects in a bear proof container.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

1) Plastic sandwich bag or empty container that is unscented

2) Item that has a scent such as mashed fruit, personal care products, herbs, beverages, food products like soup, pizza, peanut butter and jelly, tuna...

Place scented item in a sealed plastic bag or closed container for an hour or overnight. Remove the scented object from the container and confirm that there is a detectable odor. Allow participant to identify the smell from the container.

Have the participant smell products in the original labeled container for comparison.

How do you describe each smell?

Do some objects smell more than others? Do all objects smell? Is there a way to increase or decrease the smell?

Chefs use their nose to help identify flavor products that enhance the culinary experience. Is there a relation between smell and taste? Try holding your nose as if you had a stuffed up nose; can you taste anything?

Variation - You may want to explore blind taste test and expand your vocabulary for subtle differences in taste.

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