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Lungometer: Vital Lung Capacity

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


Encourage students to suggest variations of the investigation. For example, students might want to group their class data (for example, by student height or by amounts of daily exercise) and investigate whether certain characteristics impact vital lung capacity. Or, students may want to measure vital lung capacity at the beginning and the end of the week, or in the morning and afternoon to see if vital lung capacity changes over time (it should not change drastically in these cases).

Ask students, Which types of diseases might limit a person’s ability to blow out much air? Have them use resources online, in your classroom or the library to investigate diseases of the airways and lungs. Examples include asthma, emphysema, some types of bronchitis, smoking-related lung damage and occupational lung diseases caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos or certain kinds of dusts. 

If using the student storybook, Mr. Slaptail’s Secret, Mr. Slaptail improves his ability to blow air into a lungometer like the one constructed in this activity. Ask, What lifestyle changes did Mr. Slaptail make to improve his vital lung capacity?

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