Lung Capacity Lesson Plan

1. Purpose
To measure the amount of air that can be forced out of the lungs.

2. Materials:
¨ plastic dishpan
¨ 2 feet (61 cm) of aquarium tubing
¨ 1 gallon (4 liters) plastic milk jug
¨ masking tape
¨ pen
¨ water source

3. Procedure
a. Place a strip of masking tape down the side of the milk jug from top to bottom. Label the tape in centimeters to assist in measurement later on.
b. Fill the jug with water and screw on the cap.
c. Fill the dishpan about half full of water.
d. Place the jug upside down in the water, and remove the cap.
e. Have a team member help hold the jug. DO NOT allow air bubbles to enter the jug.
f. Place one end of the aquarium tubing inside the mouth of the jug.
g. Take a normal breath and exhale through the tubing. Mark the water level on the tape measured in centimeters.
h. Refill the jug with water and return it to the dishpan.
i. Breathe in deeply and make an effort to exhale all of the air out of your lungs through the tubing. Once again mark the water level on the tape.
j. Record your findings on your lab sheet. Make sure to enter them on your team’s Vital Signs Spreadsheet during media time.

The water level drops as exhaled air enters the jug. Normal breathing does not push out as much water as does deep breathing. WHY? When the air enters the jug, it pushes the water out the opening. In normal breathing, only about one eighth of the lung’s capacity is used. During exercise, more air is taken in and exhaled, thus there is a larger amount of air exhaled during deep breathing.

Using what you know about the lung’s capacity for oxygen intake, how do you think other schools will measure up in this experiment? How may the altitude or geological locations of these students affect their scores? Compare your team’s Vital Signs spreadsheet data with others from around the country and summarize your findings. Be ready to share your insights at our next lab session.

Lung Lab Sheet