How do you write about what you smell?
That was the question a group of 9 to 14-year-olds sought to answer at a class on sense-inspired writing, which was sponsored by Nose University and held at the Lynbrook Public Library on June 28.
To begin the class, Nose University Founder Andrea Bifulco explained why a person’s sense of smell is important. She said that most associations a person makes with a certain odor are developed within the first 10 years of his or her life. “So, as an adult, you’ll smell something and it will bring you back to baking with your grandma, or going on a trip or sports,” Bifulco told the students. “Every time you smell something new, you’re making a pathway in your brain, and every time you smell something and make an association, you’re learning.”
Bifulco then encouraged the students to open a case containing several cotton balls with odors sprayed onto them, and write down what came to mind when they smelled each one. Zia Baluyot, 11, said that the smell of mint reminded her of her friend’s aromatherapy set, which she did not like because she said she thought the odors were too overpowering. Jaden Harvin, 14, said that the orange-scented cotton balls reminded him of Sweet Tarts, the sweet and sour candies produced by Nestlé.
The students then had to get out of their seats and observe different objects, including leather; stuffing; moss; rocks and water beads, using their five senses. Once they chose their favorite one of the objects, the students were tasked with writing a story about it. Several of them, including Harvin, wrote about the fluff, which did not have a smell. “It kind of reminds me of the clouds,” he said.
But 11-year-old Brooke Boccio decided to write about the moss, which others thought had a strong scent. “It reminds me of my camp and how I wake up and see how it’s foggy outside,” Boccio said.
Bifulco said she would have written about the leather, which reminds her of her grandfather’s shoe repair shop. Cadhla Josephine Reynolds, 9, responded that the smell of leather reminded her of her mother’s purse. Bifulco said that the difference in opinions and memories are what makes the sense of smell so interesting.
She also told the class to continue smelling their surroundings. “Every time you’re out in the world, smell things,” Bifulco told them. “See what you can smell.”
Nose University offers classes at libraries and schools. For more information about it, visit www.noseuniversity.com or call (917) 704–6132.