Introduce the parts of respiratory system by making a model using straws of different sizes and Q-tips. Large size straws using straw from bubble tea, regular straw and a narrow straw, such as those for hot coffee (but don’t forget to cut it through the middle).
Start with the bubble tea straw to represent trachea, then regular straws to represent bronchi, coffee straws as bronchiols and finally the cotton end of Q-tips as alveoli (similar to the sac-like shape of alveoli). What you’ve done is a model to represent the passageway of air as you breath in and out.
Use of analogy
You can also compare this to the road system, for example…
Bronchi ≈ Exit of expressway (unlike expressway with multiple exits, there are only 2 bronchi in our body)
Bronchiole ≈Regular roads (branches off to streets and avenues, similar to branching observed in bronchiole)
Alveoli ≈ Carpark (loading and unloading taking place in carpark is similar to gaseous exchange taking place in alveoli)
2. Model of lungs
What’s the science behind it? When you pull down the knotted balloon, it increases the volume in the bottle, which lowers the pressure. As the environment has high pressure than the model, air rush in (because air moves from high to low pressure), hence inflating the balloon in the bottle. As the knotted balloon is released, volume in the bottle decreases, hence pressure increases. Hence, air moves out from the balloon and it deflates.
How similar is the model to lungs?
The knotted balloon in the model represents the diaphragm. Diaphragm is dome-shaped muscles located below the lungs. Its rhythmic contraction and relaxation results in breathing. Pulling down the knotted balloon is similar to diaphragm contracting. When the diaphragm contracts, it moves downwards, increasing volume of chest cavity.
When the knotted balloon is released, it represents relaxation of diaphragm. The diaphragm moves upwards when it relaxes, decreasing the volume of chest cavity.
4. Chest measurement
During inhalation, chest moves upwards and forward as it expands.
Grab a measuring tape to do a simple activity with your child. Lets compare the measurement of chest during inhalation and exhalation. Your child can compare the measurement and you can use this results to link to concepts of breathing. Also, let your child to do it on friends and family members too to inculcate scientific skills such measurement and communicating data.. You can use template here to record the results.
Extension (for 10 years old above)
Make it into project for your child as he/she do the measurement on friends and family members. Extend it for your child to make it into a report or poster to incorporate science skills and elements of STEAM.
Incorporation of STEAM (where applicable)
Science skills: measurement, recording results, communicating data into table/graph
Technology: Use of Powerpoint to make poster/report
Art: Design of poster/report
Math: Use of table, comparison of data
Here’s another idea for a science project. Why not compare the breathing rate for various activities?
To determine breathing rate, count for each time you breathe in for 1 minute.
Through this activity, you can introduce the concept that breathing rate increases during strenuous activity.
Science behind it
During physical activity, such as running, the muscle cells need more energy. Breathing rate increases to transport oxygen at a faster rate to cells to increase the rate of respiration, hence release more energy.
Explore science concept of plant adaptation through cactus!
Make one of these cactus craft and share ideas of its adaptation with your children. Most activities listed here are appropriate for those above 4 years old.
Some questions/pointers to introduce to children…
– Cacti are one of the common plants in desert
– Describe the conditions of desert (learning opportunities to expand vocabulary, eg hot, dry, arid, sandy)
– Challenges of desert climate (lack of water to support/sustain life)
– Describe a cactus (thick, fleshy stem, green stem, spines/thorns/thin and sharp leaves)
– Extend discussion with adaptation of desert animals, e.g camel
BBC KS3 Bitesize has a good resource to facilitate learning on this.
Which of these are you gonna make?
1. Painted rock cactus
Collect some pebbles and get down to painting them green with some patterns as the thorns.
Place them in pots with soil…
or a pot containing smaller pebbles,
or cans of marbles..
Voila- the painted pebbles have been transformed into cactus!
2. Popsicle stick cactus
If you have spare popsicle sticks lying around, here are some ideas to make cactus from them.
Put them upright…
Or lay them flat…
3. Hand-print cactus
Get your hand dirty, literally, with some hand-printed cactus.
4. Balloon cactus
Tape a few pieces of yellow and green balloons of different sizes together.
Toothpicks can be used to represent the spines. So, why not add toothpick to your drawing…
or to modge-painted Styrofoam ball…
6. Card-stitching cactus
Template provided by Handmade Charlotte with easy, simple stitch for the thorns of the cactus.
7. Cactus pen-holder
Make your cactus for creative use, for example, as a pen holder.
8. Paper craft cactus
Plenty of variations for paper craft cactus and with template provided. Cut, colour and fix them up. Easy peasy!
Here’s another Kitchen Science experiment – ice cream in a bag. You can easily get ingredients needed for this activity and with easy steps that kids can do it without making a mess (just make sure the ziplock bags are tightly sealed! and double ziplocked if you’re really worried). It’s also quick so kids won’t get impatient with it. The best part? It’s yummy and you can create your own flavour!
-1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 6 tablespoons salt
– ice cubes, enough to half-fill a large plastic container. (crushed ice preferred over ice cubes as it has larger surface area)
– Large plastic container
– 2 pcs large zipper-lock bags
– Towel or mittens
1. Add heavy cream, milk , sugar and vanilla in a container. Stir well.
2. Transfer the content into a zipper-lock bag.
3. Seal the zipper-lock bag tightly.
4. Place it into the other zipper-lock bag. Seal it tightly.
5. Add crushed ice into the large plastic container until it’s half filled.
6. Add 6 tablespoons rock salt.
7. Place the zipper-lock bag in the container. Seal it.
8. Shake and roll it for 10-15 minutes.
Possible science topics that you can explore with your child through this activity are state of matter and changes in state. Below are possible questions you can discuss with your child.
Is ice-cream a solid or liquid? Is it simply frozen ice-cream is solid and melted ice-cream a liquid? Frozen ice-cream is actually a mixture of different states of matter! This website by American Chemical Society explains the state of matter of ice cream for young children.
What is the change of state observed? Quite a few changes of state take place in this activity! Th obvious ones are change of state from liquid to solid (milk to ice crystals) in the first bag and change of state from solid to liquid in the plastic container. Probe your child to observe the water droplets in the second bag after the shaking and rolling as most might missed this. The bag is empty, so how do water vapour appear in the bag? This is another change of state, from gas to liquid.
Why is salt added to the ice? The dairy mixture need to be colder than ice to freeze. The salt added to ice lowers the melting point of ice. This makes the ice colder than it was before, to even below 0 degrees Celsius, hence increases the freezing rate of the diary mixture.
Another possible extension to explore this property of salt is to compare the freezing rate or melting of ice in normal water and in salt water.
Lastly, some videos to support your child’s learning in the topics mentioned above.
It’s a simple craft activity that requires a shoe box, string, papers and colouring materials. Mocomi provides template of sea animals and plants, which means, you’ll just need to just print, cut and colour them.