A”Make a READ lung with a balloon” is a fun and easy science experiment that can help demonstrate how the lungs work.
The experiment can be used to teach students about the mechanics of breathing and the role of the lungs in the respiratory system.
Here’s how you can do the experiment:
- A large balloon
- A plastic container (such as a plastic cup or jar)
- A straw
- Cut the tip of the balloon off with scissors.
- Stretch the remaining part of the balloon over the top of the plastic container, and secure it in place with tape.
- Blow into the balloon through the straw, and observe how the container expands and contracts as you inhale and exhale.
- To make it more interactive, you can even put colored water or some food color inside container. That way when it inflates you can see the color spreading and when it deflates it will give the idea of lung and chest movement.
- Explain to students that the balloon represents the lungs, and the plastic container represents the chest. As you push the container out, the balloon fills with air just like the lungs fill with oxygen. The balloon deflates, similar to how the lungs release carbon dioxide. You pull the container in. When you expand the container, the balloon becomes filled with air. Mimicking the lungs’ intake of oxygen. As the container is compressed, the balloon loses its air in a similar way to how the lungs release carbon dioxide.
This experiment is a great way to introduce students to the basic mechanics of breathing and the role of the lungs in the respiratory system. It is safe and easy to do, and students can actively observe and participate in the process.
Note that this experiment does not simulate the whole lung system but it is a good visual aid for the concept of lung inflation and deflation mechanism.
How the respiratory system works?
The respiratory system is responsible for bringing oxygen into the body and removing carbon dioxide. It includes the nose, mouth, trachea, bronchi, lungs, and diaphragm. Here is a brief overview of how the respiratory system works:
- Air is taken in through the nose or mouth and travels down the trachea (windpipe) into the lungs.
- The trachea branches into two smaller tubes called bronchi, which lead to the lungs.
- In the lungs, the bronchi branch into even smaller tubes called bronchioles. At the end of the bronchioles are small air sacs called alveoli.
- Oxygen from the inhaled air diffuses across the thin walls of the alveoli and into the bloodstream. Where it is carried by red blood cells to the body’s cells. At the same time, carbon dioxide. A waste product of cellular metabolism. Diffuses from the bloodstream into the alveoli to be exhaled.
- The lungs are protected by the rib cage and diaphragm. A large muscle that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. When the diaphragm contracts, it moves downwards, increasing the volume of the thoracic cavity. Causing the lungs to expand and take in air. When the diaphragm relaxes. It moves upward, decreasing the volume of the thoracic cavity. Causing the lungs to contract and release air.
- The process of breathing is controlled by a part of the brain called the medulla oblongata which sends signals to the diaphragm. Intercostal muscles to control the rate and depth of breathing.
This is a very simplified explanation of how the respiratory system works. In reality it’s a complex system that involves multiple feedback loops. Fine-tuned coordination of multiple muscles.