Have you ever noticed how a certain smell can remind you of old memories? Maybe the smell of homemade cookies or perfume reminds you of your mom. Does the smell of stinky socks make you think of your big brother?
Inside your nose is the olfactory epithelium, which is a fancy word for “smell device.” In the olfactory epithelium are more than 10 million scent receptors. These receptors can distinguish up to 10,000 different smells. Tiny odor molecules pass through the nose. The receptors send messages to the brain about the smells. Your sense of smell can help you understand your world. You know when you’ve burnt the toast and the smell of cut grass alerts you that summer has finally arrived. Your sense of smell also makes food tastes better. Try tasting something while you pinch your nose shut. Doesn’t taste the same, does it?
Fun Facts about the Sense of Smell for Kids
- Two scientists, Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck, won the Nobel Prize in 2004 for their research on the nose and sense of smell. They split a prize of $1.3 million.
- Your nose isn’t just for smelling. Air moves in through your nose to your lungs. Tiny hairs in your nose trap dust and pollen so it doesn’t go in your lungs.
- Your nose warms air before it heads to your lungs.
- Mucous membranes make mucous – maybe you call it boogers or snot. Mucous keeps your nose moist and also helps trap dirt and dust.
Sense of Smell Vocabulary
- Perfume: A pleasant fragrance women put on their skin
- Stinky: a bad smell
- Receptors: cells that receive information
- Pollen: particles from flowers
- Mucous: thick, oozing substance
Learn More All About Your Sense of Smell
Check out this video about your nose and how it works:
A video explaining the anatomy of the nose and its functions.
Sense of Smell Q&A
Question: Why do I get nosebleeds?
Answer: Usually nosebleeds happen when the air is dry, or when you have a cold. They can also happen if you pick your nose or get hit in the face. Nosebleeds are messy, but they’re usually not serious. If you get a nosebleed, grab a Kleenex, sit down and pinch your nose to stop the bleeding. Don’t tilt your head back.
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