Lung Capacity and Age *
|Time Required||Average (6-10 days)|
|Material Availability||Bromothymol blue is a specialty chemical which can be ordered from an online vendor.|
|Cost||Low ($20 - $50)|
|Safety||Adult supervision is recommended. If using bromothymol blue, be careful not to ingest it. Any volunteer who feels light-headed after exhaling should stop immediately and not repeat the experiment.|
AbstractOur metabolism changes as we get older, a sad fact of life that we cannot change. Old age affects our bodies in many ways. Changes in musculature, bone strength, energy, diet and breathing are some of the many ways we change as we age. You might notice that people often get out of breath when they are older and doing a physical activity. Why do some people feel out of breath, while others do not? Does this change correlate with age? Could this reflect a difference in lung capacity between the ages? You can test the lung capacity of several individuals using an empty soda bottle, some plastic tubing and a bucket of water. Partially fill a large bucket with water and use the water to fill a 2 liter soda bottle. Invert the bottle and immerse in the bucket of water, being careful not to spill out any of the water. Place one end of the tube into the opening of the bottle. Ask a volunteer to inhale, place their mouth on the other end of the tube and completely exhale into the tube. Watch as the water in the bottle becomes displaced by the exhaled air. When finished, carefully put the cap on the bottle and remove without spilling any of the remaining water. The lung capacity will be equal to the amount of water displaced by air in the bottle. You can also use a solution of bromothymol blue to measure the amount of carbon dioxide gas present when you exhale. Blow through a straw into the solution being careful not to suck up any liquid. The color of the solution will change according to the amount of carbon dioxide in solution, which will form carbonic acid and change the indicator from blue to yellow. How might respiration change before and after a physical activity? How does respiration compare between smokers and non-smokers? Adults and children? Dogs, cats and people? Good luck getting your cat to breath through a straw! (Dashefsky, 1995, 82-84;VanCleave, 1993, 177-182)
Cite This Page
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
- Dashefsky, H.S. 1995. Zoology: 49 Science Fair Projects. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
- VanCleave, J. 1993. Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Biology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
News Feed on This Topic
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Respiratory TherapistIn any medical emergency, health care workers first check a patient's airway and breathing, since oxygen is the first thing needed to survive. Respiratory therapists specialize in treating airway and breathing problems. They help, for example, premature infants whose lungs are poorly developed, or children and adults with asthma or pneumonia. They also treat people who have had heart attacks or who have been in swimming or other accidents. Their critical work helps to provide the breath of life. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity