Lesson on How to Make a Model of the Human Respiratory System

Teacher:  Debbie Kilburn Subject: Science
Grade Level: 5 & 6   Date: November 22, 1997

I. Content: The respiratory system is one of many working systems in the human body and is composed of various parts and organs, each with its own function.

II. Instructional Objective: Given an unlabeled diagram of the respiratory system, the student will:

1. Label parts of the human respiratory system to include the trachea, bronchi, lungs, thoracic cavity, and diaphragm.

2. Explain the function of the diaphragm in respiration in a paragraph of no less than 4 complete sentences to include the terms "expand", "contract", "inhale", and "exhale" as they relate to the diaphragm and the lungs during respiration.

III . Prerequisite: Students should be able to explain that the human body contains many "systems" that carry out unique functions necessary to sustain life, that the respiratory system is one of them, and that its function is that of breathing.

IV. Instructional Procedure:

Step 1. Teacher presents model or transparency of the human respiratory system and explains that it is just one of many working systems in the human body.

Step 2. Follow the route of air as it enters and travels through the respiratory system, naming the parts and organs as well as their functions as the air passes through them. For example, teacher points to the trachea, names it, and says, "The trachea serves as the principal passage for conveying air to and from the lungs. Branching out from the trachea are the bronchi, which serve to carry the air to and from the individual lungs."

Step 3. Once the route of air is sufficiently traced and parts are named and defined, teacher recaps by retracing the route from start to finish uninterrupted.

Step 4. Once again, teacher points to parts and calls on individual students to name each part as the route is traced. Each time a part is named, teacher writes name on board.

Step 5. Teacher explains that students will now make their own models of the respiratory system and materials are distributed. Teacher may opt to display a previously made model as an example to which students may refer.

Step 6. Insert straws into balloons and tape together at top. These are bronchi and lungs.

Step 7. Insert these through open bottom of modified 2-liter soda bottle straw end first and bring ends of straws up through the neck of the bottle.

Step 8. Stuff neck of soda bottle with cotton balls around straws until spaces are plugged.

Step 9. Roll construction paper into a tube just round enough to fit over the tops of the straws. Tape closed and place over tops of two straws. This will be the trachea.

Step 10. Place plastic bag over bottom end of bottle and use the rubber band to hold it in place. This will serve as the diaphragm.

Step 11. Grasp bottom of plastic bag and pull down and push up. Watch as the "lungs" expand and contract as you do this. Students may even bend "trachea" and "bronchi" over so that the air supply is cut off and watch as nothing happens when the "diaphragm" is manipulated.

V. Materials: (specified colors are optional)

overhead transparency or plastic model of the human respiratory system
6"x 4.5" ( sheet) piece of pink or gray construction paper (trachea)
plastic 2-liter soda bottle with black bottom cut off (thoracic cavity)
two round 9" or 12" pink balloons (lungs)
two drinking straws (bronchi)
medium-sized plastic bag large enough to fit over bottom end of bottle (diaphragm)
3 or 4 cotton balls
transparent tape
medium-size, thin rubber band

VI. Assessment: Students will label the parts of the respiratory system on an activity sheet on which is depicted a cutaway view of the human respiratory system with blank spaces next to arrows pointing to parts. These parts will include the trachea, bronchi, lungs, thoracic cavity, and diaphragm. Students will also explain in a paragraph of no less than 4 sentences the function of the diaphragm in respiration and will include the terms expand, contract, inhale, and exhale (or variations of those terms) as they relate to the diaphragm and lungs. For example, when the diaphragm contracts, air is inhaled and the lungs expand with air. When the diaphragm expands, the lungs contract and the air is expelled or exhaled.

VII. Follow-up Activity: Teacher may show a film that demonstrates the Heimlich maneuver and how it works. An alternative would be to enlist the services of the Red Cross by inviting a volunteer to come in and demonstrate the technique. Afterwards, have the students carefully demonstrate the technique on each other and then discuss some scenarios in which the student might be called upon to employ the Heimlich maneuver. Students may even act out restaurant or babysitting scenes in which the maneuver would be used.

Click here to see a diagram of the model in JPG format.

Helpful hints: It is better to use cotton balls made from genuine cotton rather than the polyester type because it grips the sides of the bottle better and more efficiently prevents air from passing through. Also, ask that the bottom of the bottle be cut off at home by the parents prior to student bringing it in.

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