Charles Buzek - John Spry School

Gathering data about respiration

Charles Buzek John Spry School
2400 S. Marshall
(773) 535-1400


To provide a means for the student to collect data which will further allow
the student to analyze that data for the purpose of drawing conclusions.
To initiate in the student the need to design instruments for scientific
inquiry and develop an appreciation for the accuracy of such measurements.

Materials Needed:

Balloons, rulers, and a conversion chart for cubic inches


This activity should be prefaced by a brainstorming session in which the
students and instructor break down the various divisions of respiration. The
students should arrive at three discrete events which can be used to collect
data about the breathing process. These events will answer the following
questions: 1) How much air do we breathe out normally? 2)Is there any air left
in our lungs after we breathe normally? 3) How much is actually in our lungs
when we breathe normally? These questions will lead to the following

1) the subject will breathe normally then expel that air in a normal fashion
into the balloon. The balloon will then be measured across its broadest part
with a ruler.

2) the subject will breathe in and out normally then expel all remaining air
into the balloon, exerting as much pressure on the lungs as possible to push
out any remaining air. Again the balloon will be measured as above.

3) the subject will breathe in normally, then try to expel all the air that
is in their lungs. Again measure as above.

These tests will provide the student with data concerning three aspects of the
respiration process. At this point another brainstorming session is in order.
What does the data tell us in isolation? Do we need to obtain data from a
larger sample? How should that sample be constructed? Do we need to frame
special questions relative to the sample group e.g. how do men and women
compare in terms of respiration? Is there a size factor? These questions or
others will determine how a sample group should be constituted.

Performance Assessment:

The instructor examines the data with the understanding that the measuring
device is crude and will deliver data of varying quality. The students will
construct a chart which delineates the information for their sample. Then the
student will formulate a theory based on the data they have obtained. The
student's successful accomplishment of the activity will be determined by how
well the data fits the theory.


This activity ought to be seen by the instructor as only incidentally being
concerned with respiration. The emphasis in actuality is on experiment design
and interpretation of data. These activities form the backbone of scientific
inquiry and should collaterally be the foundation of science instruction.

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