First, prepare students for lab activities by giving background information according to your teaching practices (e.g., lecture, discussion, handouts, models). Because students have no way of discovering sensory receptors or nerve pathways for themselves, they need some basic anatomical and physiological information. Teachers may choose the degree of detail and the methods of presenting the olfactory system, based on grade level and time available.
Offer students the chance to create their own experiments
While students do need direction and practice to become good laboratory scientists, they also need to learn how to ask and investigate questions that they generate themselves. Science classrooms that offer only guided activities with a single "right" answer do not help students learn to formulate questions, think critically, and solve problems. Because students are naturally curious, incorporating student investigations into the classroom is a logical step after they have some experience with a system.
The "Try Your Own Experiment" section of this unit (see the accompanying Teacher and Student Guides) offers students an opportunity to direct some of their own learning after a control system has been established in the "Class Experiment." Because students are personally vested in this type of experience, they tend to remember both the science processes and concepts from these laboratories.
Use Explore Time or Brainstorming before experimenting
To encourage student participation in planning and conducting experiments, first provide Explore Time or Brainstorming Time. Because of their curiosity, students usually "play" with lab materials first even in a more traditional lab, so taking advantage of this natural behavior is usually successful.
For some experiments, such as the olfactory lab, brainstorming is probably best. In these labs, if students investigate the materials before starting the experiments, they will probably identify (or hear others identify) and memorize many of them. Further, in activities to stimulate memories associated with odors, the "surprise" element of a sudden whiff of material is important in generating an interesting experience. Instead of letting students explore, the teacher can simply indicate the lab bench, saying that the containers of odor materials…