Science project

Breathe in! Breathe Out! Do Boys and Girls Have the Same Lung Capacity?

 Reaseach Questions:

  • What is respiration?
  • How is respiration different from breathing?
  • What is the function of the lungs?
  • How does the body use oxygen?
  • What are the bronchial?
  • What are the alveoli?
  • What is bronchitis?
  • What is lung cancer?
  • What is the connection between smoking and lung cancer?
  • What is lung capacity?
  • Why is lung capacity important?
  • How can we measure lung capacity?
  • What is a spirometer?
  • What is your hypothesis?
  • Do boys or do girls have a larger lung capacity? Why do you think so? Does it matter? If it does, how?

On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint students with basic knowledge on the process of breathing which is a key process in the larger process of respiration in humans. To begin there are specific basic concepts that students will acquire in the context of this project. These include the following: Air is a mixture of different gases. Life depends on breathing because our bodies require oxygen. The process by which we acquire air is called breathing which, as stated above, is part of a larger process called respiration. In breathing we use organs called lungs .Air moves in and out of lungs by a pumping action. Breathing is the mechanical process of pumping air into and out of the lungs. Respiration differs from breathing in that it is a chemical process of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide between the outside air and our cells. Lung capacity is a measure of the amount of air we are capable of taking in at any given time and it varies with individuals. When we lack a sufficient amount of air, we experience a phenomenon called shortness of breath. It is critical that we keep our lungs healthy so that they can retain their full capacity. In this project, the student may formulate a hypothesis as to whether boys or girls have the larger lung capacity? Key questions as to how to maintain healthfully functioning lungs should be researched. Yes, it really is a matter of life or death! Good luck on your research and experimentation!

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.


  • a large plastic bottle (3 liters)
  • a large, deep bowl
  • a measuring cup or graduated cylinder
  • tape
  • scissors
  • at 12 inches or 30 cm of long flexible tubing.

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Gather all the materials you will need for this experiment. These include: a large plastic bottle (3 liters), a large, deep bowl, a measuring cup or graduated cylinder, tape, scissors, at 12 inches or 30 cm of long flexible tubing.
  2. Copy the Subject Data Sheet and the Summary Data Chart so that you and the subjects can readily record your findings.
  3. Obtain at least t 5 boys and 5 girls who will be your subjects for this experiment. Try to match the boys and girls in terms of their height and their weight. This is crucial.
  4. Now, let us build the spirometer. Start by attaching a strip of masking tape to the plastic bottle, from top to bottom. Fill the measuring cup or graduated cylinder with 60 ml of water and put into the bottle. Mark the level with the masking tape .Repeat this procedure until you have marked the bottle from bottom to top.
  5. Fill the deep bowl with water to a height of 4 inches or 10 cm
  6. Now fill the plastic bottle to the top with water. Go all the way to the top. Keep all the air out!!!
  7. Now. Turn the bottle upside down and submerge it so that it is completely under water. Straighten it.
  8. Hold the bottle upright and insert one end of the tubing into the mouth of the bottle. Have the other end ready to put into your mouth.
  9. Ready! Take deep breath, hold d it, and now exhale into the open end of the tubing. Measure how much air is in the bottle now. IN blowing air into the bottle forced a measurable amount of water out of the bottle. You displaced the water with the air you blew in.
  10.  You will now measure and calculate how much air is in the bottle. To do so count the marks and multiply the number of marks by 60ml.
  11.  Now that you have the method down pat you will begin to have each of your subjects follow the same procedure.  Make sure to wash the mouth tubing after each subject and replace the water as needed. Watch the bowl to avoid overflowing.
  12. Have each subject record his or her data.
  13. Gather and chart all of the data. Analyze the data what conclusions did you reach? You may wish to graph the data so that a clear picture of the results is provided.
  14. Write up your report. You may wish to include what further research you could do on lung capacity. Be certain to include your research and your bibliography.                                     

                                                Subject Information Data Sheet

Lung Capacity = Number of marks times 60ml
Insert Data: Your lung capacity is ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________.
Any Comments :


                                                       Summary Data Chart 

      Subjects                     Male Lung Capacity              Female Lung Capacity


Terms/Concepts:  Respiration, breathing, oxygen, carbon dioxide, lungs, diaphragm, muscle, bronchioles, alveoli, transfer of gases.


Modern Biology, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York 1998

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