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Lungs.

How long can you hold your breath? Not very long. Your body needs air to live and your lungs are the organs that help you breathe. They work together with your heart and the blood in your circulatory system to carry air to every part of your body.

What Do Your Lungs Look Like?

Your lungs are located in your chest behind your rib cage. They look like two soft, wet pinkish-gray sponges. Your hard bony ribs help protect your lungs. Muscles between your ribs (your intercostal muscles) and a special muscle under your rib cage (your diaphragm) help you to inhale and exhale. That's why you can see your chest move in and out when you breathe.

When you are sitting still, you breathe about 15 breaths a minute. Air is drawn into your nose and sent down through your windpipe (or trachea) to your lungs. If you run hard or get scared or excited, your breathing gets fasten Your brain tells your lungs to breathe more quickly when your body needs more oxygen. Your trachea connects to tubes inside your lungs called bronchi, which branch out into even smaller tubes called bronchioles. This tree-like system ends in tiny air sacs called alveoli. From here, oxygen is passed into your bloodstream.

What Happens to the Air You Breathe?

As air passes through your nose, it is moistened, warmed, and cleaned. Tiny hairs inside your nose, called cilia, trap dust, dirt, and pollen with sticky mucus. That is why you blow your nose every once in a while. It gets rid of the trapped dirt! If anything gets past your nose, more cilia inside your lungs trap it and send it back out when you cough.

When you exhale, your lungs get rid of air that has already been used by your body. This "waste air" contains carbon dioxide. You also breathe out a little water vapor. That's why you can sometimes see your breath when it is very cold outside.

It is important to keep your lungs healthy. Doctors say you should always try to breathe clean air, get plenty of exercise, and don't smoke! Smoking can cause diseases that damage your lungs, making it difficult for you to breathe, besides putting you at risk for lung cancer. Even inhaling "second-hand" smoke can damage your lungs and affect your health.

Background

Breathing air is vital to every process that keeps us alive. Just as a campfire needs air to burn wood, the cells in our bodies need air to convert digested food into energy. This energy is used to build new cells, make enzymes and other chemicals, and to fuel the many biochemical processes that literally keep our bodies alive. The classic phrase "the breath of life" is not an understatement.

All living things on Earth need to breathe. A newborn baby breathes about 40 breaths a minute. An adult, in good health, breathes approximately 16 times a minute. Yet both will suffer irreversible brain damage in as little as 4 minutes if their breathing stops. It is extremely beneficial then that our respiratory control center, located in our brain stem, continually ensures that we breathe day in and day out without having to consciously think about it.

Our Respiratory System

Our respiratory system is made up of our nose and nasal cavity, the mouth and throat (the pharynx), the windpipe (the trachea), two lungs and the airways inside of them (the bronchial tubes and alveoli), and our rib cage and associated muscles. The bronchial tubes inside our lungs spread out in an amazing tree-like system, branching out in all directions. At the ends of each of these tubes are the alveoli, which are grape-like clusters of air sacs. It has been estimated that our lungs contain almost 1500 miles of airways and over 300 million alveoli.

The lungs themselves contain no muscles. They are similar to two balloon-like, soft, wet, pinkish-gray sponges enclosed in a rib cage. When we inhale, (or sometimes referred to as inspiration) the muscles between our ribs (the intercostal muscles) and the muscle attached to the bottom of our rib cage (the diaphragm) expand. The space inside our rib cage becomes larger and the air pressure decreases. Air then rushes into our lungs to fill up this extra space. When we exhale, these same muscles relax and contract and the space gets smaller again. Air is then pushed back out of the lungs. Air passing out through the nose and mouth during exhalation rids our bodies of used "waste" air. It is also part of the process that enables us to make sounds and form words. It is an essential part of speech. Air passing through our nose and mouth while we inhale also enable us to taste and smell.

The nose, nasal cavity, and mouth help to warm, moisten, and filter incoming air before it reaches our lungs. Goblet cells that produce a sticky mucus and tiny hairs called cilia line the inside of our nose and nasal cavity. The cilia and mucus help trap much of the dust, dirt, and germs in the air we breathe. If any particles do manage to get past our nose and into our throat or lungs, there are more mucus cells and cilia deep at work inside both our lungs and throat. Coughing and sneezing are two ways our bodies can forcefully expel particles and foreign matter from our respiratory system.

The Air We Breathe

The air we breathe is made up of a mixture of gases. Air is about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 2% other gases. Our bodies use only the oxygen. Several places in our bodies contain chemical sensors that detect and report oxygen levels to the breathing center in our brain. This is to ensure that we have enough [O.sub.2] inside of us to function and live. These sensors also measure how much carbon dioxide has accumulated in our muscles. Carbon dioxide ([CO.sub.2]) is a waste gas released by our cells when food energy is burned. If oxygen levels fall too low, or carbon dioxide levels rise too high, our breathing becomes faster and deeper to gather in the needed oxygen more quickly.

Gas Exchange in the Lungs

Our respiratory system works in conjunction with our circulatory system (our heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries) to bring oxygen into the body and carry carbon dioxide waste out of the body. Deep inside the lungs are the millions of tiny alveoli (air sacs). Each alveoli is surrounded by tiny blood vessels called capillaries. The walls of the alveoli and capillaries are only one cell thick. This makes it quite easy for oxygen to pass out of the alveoli and into the blood stream for delivery to other parts of the body. It also allows carbon dioxide waste from the muscles to easily pass out of the bloodstream and into the lungs to be exhaled. This exchange system is a continual process.

Taking Care of Our Lungs

Our lungs are fragile. It is important to protect them from harmful conditions. Undoubtedly, one of the most harmful things anyone can do to their lungs is to smoke cigarettes. Tobacco smoke contains over 60 known or suspected cancer-causing agents, plus other chemicals that can damage our lungs. Even second-hand smoke can impair breathing. Studies show that tobacco smoke is responsible for increasing the severity of asthma attacks in children as well as causing as many as 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in babies and young children each year. Though there are infectious lung diseases, like tuberculosis, that can attack the entire population, illnesses like emphysema, pneumonia, chronic and acute bronchitis, and asthma more greatly affect the lungs of people who regularly smoke cigarettes. (Tuberculosis, once ranked among the top killing diseases, has been largely contained, except in many developing nations where it is still a major threat to health.) Cigarette smoking also affects other parts of the body and increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Living in areas with significant air pollution is the second greatest hazard to healthy lungs. Pollutants like ozone, sulfur dioxide, smoke, soot, dust, ash, and asbestos can all significantly harm our ability to breathe. The best way to protect our lungs and to ensure that they work their best is to participate (at least 3 to 5 times each week) in exercise that increases our respiration and heart rate for 20 minutes. In addition, don't smoke, live in an area with clean air (and campaign for clean air everywhere), and see your doctor regularly for a physical check-up.

Some "deadly" facts that you may wish to share with your students: 1) Smoking kills more people than car accidents, murders, illegal drugs, alcohol, AIDS, suicides, and fires combined (more than 400,000 each year). 2) New reports show that smoking is on the increase among children as young as 13.3) It is estimated that 3,000 teen-agers become regular smokers daily and about 1,000 of these will eventually die from smoking-related illnesses. 4) Smokeless ("spit" or chewing") tobacco contains 28 known carcinogens. It is not a safe alternate to smoking. 5) In a recent University of Michigan study, 2000 high school seniors reported that they had their first cigarette around 6th grade. 50% of them said that they believed smoking had no, or only mild, health consequences.

With statistics like these facing us, we, as educators and parents, need to do more to inform and reinforce the message about the dangers of smoking. Sadly, too many of our young people have not "gotten" this message. We hope you will use this "Lung" issue as a springboard for some in-depth discussions with your students.

Level Pre-A

Main Concept: Our lungs are the organs that help us breathe.

Picture Activity

Ask what the students in WHY-FLY's class are studying. They are learning about our lungs. Ask where our lungs are in our bodies. Have them feel their fibs. Our ribs are hard to help protect our lungs. Have them breathe in and out deeply, while holding their chest. Explain that when we breathe in, we fill our lungs with air and our chest gets bigger. This is called inhaling. When we breathe out, our chest goes back to its regular size, because we have breathed out the air. This is called exhaling. You can also explain that we need air to live. Have them draw a picture of themselves and glue lima beans where their lungs belong.

Vocabulary

Have them trace the dotted "un" letters. Then have them use the picture clues to help identify the words: lungs, bun, sun, run. Go over these together and then read the sentence out loud "Science is fun."

Weekly Lab

You need: a wash tub or deep sink filled with water, a 2-liter soft drink bottle, a bendable straw for each student, a permanent marker. This lab will show them how much air is in their lungs. Have them fill their soft drink bottles with water. Then have their partner hold the neck of the bottle down under water. If they turn the filled bottle over in the tub quickly, it will not loose much water. Tell them to take a big, deep breath. Then put the short end of their straws into the bottle and exhale through the straw. Mark this water/air level on their bottles with a line and their name. Small groups can share one bottle, (showing several students' lung capacity) or have each one do their own.

Weekly Problem

You need: a clock or watch with a second hand. Have your students sit quietly (even with their eyes shut) for a short while just to become aware of their breathing. Tell them you will time them for one minute, while they are counting their breaths. List their breathing counts on the board. Tell them most six year olds breathe between 20 and 30 breaths per minute. See how your group compares. Time them again after doing some jumping jacks.

Storytelling

Ask leading questions about the picture. Why do you think Nan won the race? What did she do to keep herself and her lungs healthy? Why does Dan look so out of breath? What does he do in his free time? Explain that exercise helps keep us healthy (also eating fight and getting enough sleep). Encourage them to discuss what kinds of physical activities they enjoy the most.

Challenge

Have them first cut out the lung picture and glue it in place on the boy. Explain that this is what the insides of our lungs look like. They are filled with lots of branching tubes and little air bags (sacs). These are our airways. They almost look like little trees. Next have them cut out both sides of the rib cage. Have them fold the little tabs on each one. Then have them glue the red tabs on the ribs to the red tabs on the boy. When they are finished, they will be able to open the ribs like little doors to see the lungs inside. Discuss the No Smoking symbol in the box at the bottom. Read this to them and have them draw their own No Smoking picture poster. (See the Background for more information.)

Level A

Main Concept and Picture Activity: See TN Level Pre-A.

Vocabulary

Go over ail the pictures together: lungs, bun, sun, run. Have them trace the dotted "un" letters, and then write "un" to finish ail the other words. Read the bottom sentence out loud together "Science is fun."

Weekly Lab

See TN Level Pre-A - WEEKLY LAB.

Weekly Problem

See TN Level Pre-A - WEEKLY PROBLEM. In addition, time their breathing again for one minute after they have done some jumping jacks. Make a second list on the board to compare breathing rates.

Writing for Science

Ask leading questions about the picture. Why do you think Nan won the race? What did she do to keep herself and her lungs healthy? Why does Dan look so out of breath? What does he do in his free time? Explain that exercise helps keep us healthy (also eating fight and getting enough sleep). Encourage them to discuss what kinds of physical activities they enjoy. Have them complete the sentence and draw a picture illustrating their favorite form of exercise. Use these to make a class mural of "Our Active Class." Stress the importance of being very active at least 20 minutes every day to build strength and stay in shape.

Challenge

See TN Pre-A - CHALLENGE.

Level B

Main Concepts: Our lungs are part of our breathing (or respiratory) system and are located within the rib cage in our chest. Exercise helps our lungs stay healthy and keeps our bodies fit.

Vocabulary

Answers: 1. lungs 2. rung 3. lunch 4. under. Encourage them to use context clues in the sentences to help figure out the missing words.

Weekly Lab

This lab will show them how much air is in their lungs. Have them fill their bottle with water and have their partner hold the neck of the bottle under water. If they turn the filled bottle over in the tub quickly, it will not loose much water. Small groups can share one bottle (showing several students' lung capacity) or have each one do their own.

Weekly Problem

Answers: 1) gerbil 2) 90 bpm 3) rat 4) 50 bpm 5) 15 bpm 6) faster. (The numbers used in this graph interpretation activity are all averages of ranges of breathing.) Time them for one minute to see how fast they breathe. Have them find out about chinchillas. (They are squirrel-like rodents from So. America, with very soft pale blue-gray fur).

Writing for Science

Have them study the picture of Planet Sklunk and describe some of the things that contribute to the Sklunkonians poor health and fitness (smoking, air pollution, not enough exercise). Encourage them to use their imaginations to design a health and exercise program that will excite these interplanetary couch-potatoes to get into shape.

Challenge

Have them first cut out the lung picture and glue it in place on the boy. Explain that this is what the insides of our lungs look like. They are filled with lots of branching tubes and little air bags (sacs). These are our airways. They almost look like little trees. Next have them cut out both sides of the rib cage. Have them fold the little tabs on each one. Then have them glue the red tabs on the ribs to the red tabs on the boy. When they are finished, they will be able to open the fibs like little doors to see the lungs inside. Discuss the No Smoking box on the bottom. Discuss the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke and have them draw a No Smoking picture poster. (See the Background.)

Level C

Main Concepts: See TN Level B.

Vocabulary

Answers: 1. lungs 2. rung 3. lunch 4. under 5. thunder. Encourage them to use context clues in the sentences to help them.

Weekly Lab

Before beginning this lab, have an adult poke holes in the bottom of their bottles. (5 to 8 holes between 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter will work well.) First, have them feel their ribs while they quietly concentrate on their breathing for a short while. Explain that the expanding muscles (between their ribs) and their diaphragm muscle (below their rib cage) are pulling the air into their lungs. Lungs themselves don't have any muscles. Next, have them slowly pull the center of their balloons down several times. Tell them to carefully watch what happens each time to the small balloon (the lung). They can also put their hand over the top of a partner's bottle to feel the air as it is being drawn in.

Weekly Problem

Answers: 1) gerbil 2) 90 bpm 3) chinchilla 4) rabbit 5) rat 6) faster. (The numbers used in this graph interpretation activity are all averages of ranges of breathing.) Time them for one minute to see how fast they breathe. Have them find out more about chinchillas. (They are squirrel-like rodents from So. America, with soft pale blue-gray fur.)

Writing for Science

See TN Level B - WRITING FOR SCIENCE.

Challenge

This activity will show how much air is in their lungs. Have them fill their bottle with water and have their partner hold the neck of the bottle under water. If they turn the filled bottle over in the tub quickly, it will not loose much water. Small groups can share one bottle (showing several students' lung capacity) or have each one do their own.

Puzzle

Level D

Main Concepts: Our lungs are part of our respiratory system. They help us take oxygen into our bodies. Exercise keeps our lungs healthy.

Vocabulary

Answers: 1. lungs 2. rung 3. lunch 4. under 5. thunder 6. hungry. Encourage them to use context clues in the sentences to help them.

Weekly Lab

See TN Level C - WEEKLY LAB. In addition, time them for one minute to see how fast they breathe. List their results on the board to see how close in range they fall. Most 8 to 10 year olds breathe between 18 and 25 bpm.

Weekly Problem

Answers: 1) Allie 30 + Juan 10 = 40 balloons 2) Allie 60 + Juan 20 = 80 balloons 3) 3 1/2 hrs.

Writing for Science

Have them study the picture of Planet Sklunk and describe some of the things that contribute to the Sklunkonians poor health and fitness (smoking, air pollution, not enough exercise). Encourage them to use their imaginations to design a health and exercise program that will excite these interplanetary couch-potatoes to get into shape.

Challenge and Puzzle

See TN Level C - CHALLENGE and PUZZLE.

Level E

Main Concepts: See TN Level D.

Vocabulary

Answers: 1) lungs 2) rung 3) lunch 4) under 5) lunar 6) thunder 7) hungry 8) blunder 9) uneven 10) swung. Encourage them to see who can make a list on the most "un" words. This additional activity can be done in small groups. To make it more difficult, you can tell them not to include words that begin with "un."

Weekly Lab

See TN Level C - WEEKLY LAB. In addition, time them for one minute to see how fast they breathe. List their results on the board to see how close in range their breathing rates fall.

Weekly Problem

Answers: 1) Allie 46 + Juan 14 = 60 balloons 2) Allie 92 + Juan 28 = 120 balloons 3) 5 hrs. 4) Allie 161 + Juan 14 = 175 balloons 5) Allie 115 + Juan 35 = 150 balloons.

Writing for Science

See TN Level D - WRITING FOR SCIENCE.

Challenge

This activity will show how much air is in their lungs. Have them fill their bottle with water and have their partner hold the neck of the bottle under water. If they turn the filled bottle over in the tub quickly, it will not loose much water. Small groups can share one bottle (showing several students' lung capacity) or have each one do their own.

Puzzle

Level F

Main Concepts: Our lungs are part of our breathing (or respiratory) system and consist of many airways and tubes. They help us take oxygen into our bodies. Exercise keeps our lungs and ourselves healthy. Smoking damages lungs and causes other diseases.

Weekly Lab

For Lab A: Before beginning this lab, have an adult poke holes in the bottom of their bottles. (5 to 8 holes between 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter will work well.) First, have them feel their ribs while they quietly concentrate on their breathing for a short while. Explain that the expanding muscles (between their ribs) and their diaphragm muscle (below their rib cage) are pulling the air into their lungs. Lungs themselves don't have any muscles. Next, have them slowly pull the center of their balloons down several times. Tell them to carefully watch what happens each time to the small balloon (the lung).They can also put their hand over the top of a partner's bottle to feel the air as it is being drawn in. Time them for one minute to see how fast they breathe. List their results on the board to see how close in range they fall. For Lab B: See TN Level E - CHALLENGE.

Weekly Problem

Answers: 1) 9 years old 2) 7 ounces of mucus 3) 3 liters of air 4) 1 quart of blood 5) 1490 miles.

Writing for Science

Have them study the picture of Planet Sklunk and describe some of the things that contribute to the Sklunkonians poor health and fitness (smoking, air pollution, not enough exercise). Encourage them to use their imaginations to design a health and exercise program that will excite these interplanetary couch-potatoes to get into shape.

Challenge

Each letter in the code is 3 letters ahead in the alphabet. Answer: epiglottis. It is the flap of skin that closes over the entrance to your windpipe, so nothing can get into your lungs.

Puzzle

See TN Level E - PUZZLE.

Recommended Resources

* Parker, Steve. Look at Your Body: Lungs. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books, 1996

* Parker, Steve. The Lungs and Breathing. New York: Franklin Watts Publishing, 1991

* Saunderson, Jane. Heart and Lungs. USA: Troll Associates - Eagle Books Ltd., 1992

* The Health Connection, a non-profit organization promoting safe and drug-free schools, provides a catalog featuring a wide variety of educational and child-oriented materials, videos, games, and models. Ask for the Prevention and Counseling Tools for Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Tobacco-Free Communities 1-800-548-8700 fax: 1-888-294-8405 website: www.healthconnection.org

* The National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, 1707 L Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036 (202) 296-5469 website: www.tobaccofreekids.org

* The American Lung Association provides educational materials for grades Kdg. through 6th. 1-800-LUNG-USA.

Materials Needed for Issue 15 - Jupiter

PA, A, B - black construction paper, scissors, glue, a cantaloupe, a grapefruit, 2 plums, 2 grapes, 2 blueberries, 1 poppy seed, a large bowl, small paper cups, plastic spoons, a knife (for adult use)

C - scissors, tape, yarn, coat hangers, a cantaloupe, a grapefruit, 2 plums, 2 grapes, 2 blueberries, I poppy seed, a large bowl, small paper cups, plastic spoons, a knife (for adult use)

D - scissors, a tape measure, ruler, roll of adding machine or cash register tape (or yarn), a cantaloupe, a grapefruit, 2 plums, 2 grapes, 2 blueberries, 1 poppy seed, a large bowl, small paper cups, plastic spoons, plastic knives

E - scissors, a tape measure, ruler, rolls of adding machine or cash register tape (or yarn)

F - same as above, plus drawing compasses, construction paper
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Science Weekly
Date:Mar 25, 1998
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