Smell Test Experiment – Are you a super smeller?

Find out if your nose is up to the test with our smell test experiment. Did you know? All 5 of our senses work directly with our brain to make sense of the world around us. This simple test may trick you without realising it, make sure to try it on your friends and family too!

You will need:

  • 3 cups
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cinnamon powder
  • A timer

Method:

  • Put some cocoa powder into one cup
  • Put some cinnamon powder into another cup
  • In the third cup, mix a little cocoa powder with a little cinnamon powder
  • Set the timer for 30 seconds and when you press start, smell the cocoa powder
  • When the timer goes off, quickly get the cup with the mixed powders and smell it – what can you smell?
  • Try it again, but this time smell the cinnamon powder first.

The science bit:

Our brain has these things called ‘smell receptors’ which helps us to recognise smells. When you smell the same smell for a long time your brain gets tired and turns the smell receptors off. So when you smelt a mix of the powders, you would only smell the powder that you haven’t already been smelling! E.g if you smelt the cocoa powder first, you should only have smelt cinnamon when you smelt the mixed cup.

Why not try:

  • Testing this on your friends – give one friend the cocoa powder and the other friend the cinnamon (don’t tell them what’s in the cups!). Let them smell it, then give them both a mix – what can they smell? Tell them that they are both smelling the same thing and see their reaction!
  • Testing some more senses – our taste test can be found here.