Animal Scent

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This activity (on page 3 of the PDF under GPS: Animal Scent Activity) is a full inquiry investigation into animal behavior. Learners will create five or six scent blocks by rubbing wood blocks with different kitchen spices, foods, or animal scents. Then, learners let their pets investigate each block separately. Carefully observed behaviors are recorded for interpretation. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Animal Scent.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • a variety of kitchen spices, for example, parsley, sage, cloves, cinnamon. Do not use things that could be irritants, such as cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes.
  • other scents that might be interesting to animals, such as maple syrup, jelly, salami, cheese.
  • optional: acquire other animal scents from your hunting supply or outdoors store. You might find deer, elk, fox, or bear attractant at a store like this.
  • wooden blocks, such as scrap 2x4 lumber, cut to about 3 inch square. Caution: do not use green-treated lumber, or anything that has been treated with pesticide or other poisons!
  • a pet dog or cat!


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Populations
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Smell
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Food and Cooking
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • smell
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2006

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 515566