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Lungometer: Vital Lung Capacity

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, Barbara Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.

Lungometer: Vital Lung Capacity

This activity uses guided inquiry to illustrate that our lungs can hold much more air than we typically inhale and exhale. Students will learn that the maximum amount of air that can be blown out of the lungs after taking a deep breath is known as vital lung capacity, and they will build a “Lungometer” to measure their own vital lung capacity. They will predict, model, observe and measure, graph, and draw conclusions based on their investigation. 

Specific science concepts addressed in this activity include the following.

  • Air takes up space.
  • The lungs hold air.
  • Air travels in and out of the lungs.
  • People differ in vital lung capacity (the amount of air they can blow out of their lungs).
  • Some air always remains in the lungs.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Numbers: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932


Houston Endowment Inc.

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education