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Breathing Is Essential to Life

Dianne Mehlinger               Arthur Libby School
                               5338 South Loomis Blvd
                               Chicago IL 60609
                               (773) 535-9350


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 


MATERIALS: paper towel
           hand mirror


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?


MATERIALS: stethoscopes
           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?


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.


MATERIALS:  scissors
           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?

MATERIALS:  paper and pen
            large pan
            empty 1 gallon plastic bottle with a cap
            plastic tubing 
            antiseptic wipes


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?


MATERIALS:  an animal lung (sheep or cow)
            plastic tubing
            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?

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