Breathing Is Essential to Life
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Dianne Mehlinger Arthur Libby School
5338 South Loomis Blvd
Chicago IL 60609
Students in the primary and intermediate grades will: 1. Recognize that
breathing is a necessary, automatic life process; 2. Observe and record data on
respiration rate; 3. Demonstrate how air enters and leaves the lungs; 4. Observe
how respiratory rate changes with different activities; 5. Use counting as a
means of gathering data
ACTIVITY #1: COLLECT ONE OF THE GASES IN YOUR BREATH
MATERIALS: paper towel
Use the paper towel to clean and dry the mirror. Hold the mirror near, but not
touching, your mouth. Exhale onto the mirror two or three times. Examine the
surface of the mirror.
QUESTIONS: What happens to the mirror?
Why does the mirror become fogged?
ACTIVITY #2: LISTEN TO PARTNERS BREATHING; COUNT BREATHS PER MINUTE
watch or clock with second hand
index cards or sticky note paper with student's names
Use a stethoscope to listen to one another's breathing. Hold breath as long as
possible; record how long you held your breath. Pair off students: Breather:
All students sit quietly (lie down if possible) with hands placed over their
stomachs or chests. WATCHERS: The watchers must watch their partners and count
the breaths taken in one minute (count ONE breath for every time the stomach or
chest rises). Teacher cues the watcher when to begin and when to stop after 60
seconds. After the 60 seconds, watchers tell the breathers how many breaths
were counted. Then all breathers record their at rest information on the index
card or sticky note paper. Students trade places and repeat the activity.
Next, students do jumping jacks or run in place for 60 seconds before recording
breathing rates as described above.
QUESTIONS: In which case did you breathe more? Why?
Do you think respiration rate would be faster or slower if you ran
for 10 minutes before counting breaths?
Would there be a difference in your respiration rate if you checked
it when you were sleeping and then again if you were walking?
Why can't we hold our breath for 5 minutes?
ACTIVITY #3: MEASURING LUNG CAPACITY WITH BALLOONS
MATERIALS: 6" and 9" balloons
cloth tape measure
paper and pen or pencil
PROCEDURE: CAUTION Do not do this activity if you have asthma!
Give identical balloons to pairs of students. Instruct each to blow up a
balloon as much as possible with only one breath. Measure how big around
everyone's balloon is with a tape measure and write down the numbers next to the
persons names. Let air out of balloons and repeat two more times. Take an
average of three tests.
QUESTIONS: Who was able to blow the most air into their balloon?
What is it about the person that enables him or her to do this?
If you ran in place for 2 - 3 minutes, would you be able to blow as
much air into the balloon? Try it.
ACTIVITY #4: CONSTRUCT A LUNG
1 or 2 liter soda bottle with label removed
7" and 9" balloons
Cut off and discard bottom of soda bottle. Invert the 7" balloon inside the
bottle after stretching the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. Cut top off a
9" balloon and stretch this top over the bottom of the bottle. Hold the bottle
with one hand and, with your other hand move the surface of the balloon at the
bottom of the bottle by pulling and pushing it.
QUESTIONS: What happens to the balloon?
Why does it inflate and deflate?
What large muscle is important in inhaling and exhaling and how does
the model demonstrate its action?
ACTIVITY 5: MEASURING LUNG CAPACITY WITH WATER
MATERIALS: paper and pen
empty 1 gallon plastic bottle with a cap
Make a chart with names of participant. Label name, weight, height and code.
For each person tested, fill in the information on the chart, and give a
different code letter of the alphabet starting with "A". Pour about 3 inches of
water into a large pan and set it in a sink or on a counter. Fill a gallon jug
with water and screw on the cap. Place the jug upside down into the pan of
water. Remove the top of the jug so that the water remains inside and slip a 3
foot length of clear plastic tubing into the jug. Ask each participant to take
a big breath and blow as much air as they can into the length of the tubing.
Mark the water level on the jug both before and after blowing and record on the
chart. Wipe the tubing clean with the antiseptic wipe before another subject
uses it. Compare the data you gathered from your test.
QUESTIONS: Who was able to blow the most air into the water?
What was it about the person that enabled him or her to do this?
If you ran in place for a few minutes, would you be able to blow
as much air into the water?
ACTIVITY #3: OBSERVING AN ANIMAL LUNG
MATERIALS: an animal lung (sheep or cow)
scalpel (optional for dissecting lung)
PROCEDURE: Observe trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli of animal lung.
Observe how lung inflates by blowing air down trachea with plastic
QUESTIONS: Is the lung of a sheep or a cow the same as a human lung?
What happens when you blow into the trachea with the plastic tube?