Louie Psihoyos
Stinky Pits: A History

Two texts explore the history and science of smell. The first provides fascinating details about the history of smell and explains how the deodorant industry got its start. The second is a short text about how the sense of smell works.

By Kristin Lewis
From the April 2018 Issue

Learning Objective: to synthesize information from two texts about smell

Lexile: 970L (combined)
Other Key Skills: text structure, central ideas, tone, text features, key ideas and supporting details, synthesis
Topics: Health,

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Read the Paired Texts
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Activities (7)
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (1)
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Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (1)
Dig Deeper With These Texts
Article: “Your Nose Knows More Than Scientists Thought”

As a class, read this Science Magazine Q&A with neuroscientist John McGann who argues scientists have mistakenly neglected research on the human sense of smell.

Video: “How many smells can you smell?” (4:33)

As a class, watch this PBS video to learn more about the science behind our sense of smell.

Video: “How do dogs see with their noses?” (4:27)

As a class, watch this TED-ed video and discuss how a dogs olfactory system compares to that of humans.

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

Close Reading, Critical Thinking, Skill Building




For On Level Readers

What factors determine whether we think something smells good or bad? Answer this question in an essay. Use text evidence from both articles in your response.

For Struggling Readers

In a well-organized paragraph, explain how the way we deal with body odor has changed over time. Use text evidence from “Stinky Pits: A History” in your response.

For Advanced Readers

Use details from both texts to explain whether or not you agree with the following claim: Our perception of certain smells is influenced by the culture in which we live. 

For Artists

Create an infographic about smell that illustrates how it works.

For Screenwriters

You are making a documentary about the history of the antiperspirant and deodorant industry in America. Write a scene in which Young and Murphey are interviewed about Odorono. Your scene may be in the form of a written transcript or a 3- to 4-minute video.