# Measuring Lung Capacity

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1 Name Class Date Chapter 37 Circulatory and Respiratory Systems Measuring Lung Capacity Introduction The amount of air that you move in and out of your lungs depends on how quickly you are breathing. The amount of air that is moved in and out of the lungs when a person is breathing normally is called the tidal volume. This amount of air provides enough oxygen for the body when the person is resting. It is possible to inhale more deeply and exhale more forcefully than usual. The maximum amount of air moved in and out of the lungs when the deepest possible inspiration is followed by the strongest possible expiration is called the vital capacity. In this investigation, you will determine the tidal volume and vital capacity of your lungs. Problem How are the tidal volume and vital capacity of the human lungs measured? Pre-Lab Discussion Read the entire investigation. Then, work with a partner to answer the following questions. 1. Why is it important to measure tidal volume and tidal capacity more than once and then calculate means for these measurements? Calculating the mean for several trials should help to compensate for small measurement errors and other sources of uncertainty. 2. What would you conclude if the balloon were smaller during your vital capacity measurement than during your tidal volume measurement? This result would suggest an error in conducting the experiment. You may want to refer students to Section 37 3 in the textbook for a discussion of the mechanics of breathing. Time required: 40 minutes 3. List some possible sources of error that could occur during this experiment. Sources of error could include using balloons of different original sizes or of different elastic strengths, over-inhaling or -exhaling during the tidal volume measurement, under-inhaling or -exhaling during the vital capacity measurement, errors of mathematics or of interpreting graphs, and so on. 4. How do you expect your estimated vital capacity to compare to your measured vital capacity? Explain your answer. Student predictions may reflect their knowledge of the effects of aerobic training on vital capacity and whether or not they perceive themselves as well-trained. Biology Laboratory Manual A/Chapter

2 5. Why might a doctor want to determine the tidal volume or vital capacity of a patient? Vital capacity could be monitored to determine the physiological effects of exercise on the body. A low tidal volume or vital capacity might alert the doctor to the presence of a respiratory illness such as asthma, pneumonia, or emphysema. Materials (per pair) 2 round balloons (1 for each student in the pair) metric ruler meter stick bathroom scale (1 per class is adequate) metric if possible Safety Do not participate in this investigation if you are ill or if you have any breathing difficulties. You will be exercising during this investigation. If at any time you feel faint or dizzy, sit down and immediately call your teacher. Note the safety alert symbol next in the Procedure and review the meaning of the symbol by referring to Safety Symbols on page 8. Procedure Part A. Measuring Tidal Volume 1. Stretch a round balloon lengthwise several times. 2. Inhale normally and then exhale normally into the balloon. Note: Do not force your breathing. 3. Immediately pinch the end of the balloon shut so that no air escapes. Place the balloon on a flat surface. Have your partner use the metric ruler to measure the diameter of the balloon at its widest point, as shown in Figure 1. Record this measurement in Data Table 1 on page 264. Allow students to participate in this investigation on a voluntary basis. Students with chronic or acute respiratory illnesses should not participate. You may wish to consult the school nurse for information about students who should not be allowed to conduct this investigation. You may wish to tell students to pinch their nostrils shut while exhaling into the balloon to prevent air from escaping through the nose. Metric ruler Diameter of balloon Figure Biology Laboratory Manual A/Chapter 37

3 Name Class Date 4. Deflate the balloon and repeat steps 2 and 3 two more times. Use your three measurements to calculate an average diameter. Record this number in Data Table 1. Part B. Measuring Vital Capacity 1. After breathing normally, inhale as much air into your lungs as possible. Exhale as much air as you can from your lungs into the balloon. 2. Immediately pinch the end of the balloon shut so that no air escapes. Place the balloon on a flat surface. Have your partner use the metric ruler to measure the diameter of the balloon at its widest point. Record this measurement in Data Table Deflate the balloon and repeat steps 1 and 2 two more times. Use your three measurements to calculate a mean diameter. Record this number in Data Table Use Figure 2 to convert the balloon diameters in Data Table 1 into lung volumes. On the horizontal (x) axis, locate the diameter of the balloon in centimeters and follow the number up until it meets the curved line. Then move across in a straight line to the vertical (y) axis and approximate the lung volume. Record this number in Data Table 2. Repeat this procedure for all of the balloon diameters in Data Table Lung volume (cubic centimeters) Balloon diameter (centimeters) Figure 2 Biology Laboratory Manual A/Chapter

4 Data Table 1 Balloon Diameter (cm) Trial Average Data Table 2 Tidal Volume Lung Volume (cm 3 ) Vital Capacity Trial Average Tidal Volume Vital Capacity Part C. Calculating Estimated Vital Capacity 1. Research has shown that the capacity of a person s lungs is proportional to the surface area of his or her body. To find the surface area of your body, you will need to know your height in centimeters and your mass in kilograms. Use a meter stick to find your height and the bathroom scale to find your mass. 2. Use Figure 3 to estimate the surface area of your body. Find your height in centimeters on the left scale. Find your mass in kilograms on the right scale. Lay a metric ruler across Figure 3 so that its edge connects these two points. Now look at the center scale. The point at which the ruler crosses this scale gives your surface area in square meters. Record this number in the space provided on page 265. Some students are sensitive about their body size. Place the bathroom scale in an isolated part of the classroom, and allow students to determine their body mass in private. If a metric scale is not available, students should multiply the weight in pounds by to calculate the mass in kg. 264 Biology Laboratory Manual A/Chapter 37

5 Name Class Date Height in centimeters Surface area in square meters Mass in kilograms Figure 3 3. To calculate the estimated vital capacity of your lungs, multiply your surface area by the ratio of vital capacity to surface area. For females this ratio is 2000 ml per square meter. For males this ratio is 2500 ml per square meter. Record the estimated vital capacity of your lungs in the space provided below. Body surface area (m 2 ) Vital capacity (cm 3 ) Analysis and Conclusions 1. Analyzing Data How do your tidal volume and vital capacity compare with those of other class members? Why might there be variation among different people? Answers will depend upon student data. Students may mention body size, respiratory health, aerobic training, or inaccuracy of measurement as reasons for variations. 2. Evaluating How does your estimated vital capacity compare to your measured vital capacity? Was your prediction in Pre-Lab Discussion question 4 confirmed? Answers will depend on student predictions. Some students who have undergone aerobic training may have expected their measured vital capacities to exceed their estimated vital capacities. 3. Formulating Hypotheses If a person forcibly exhales and then relaxes but does not deliberately inhale, air is taken into the lungs. Suggest a hypothesis to explain this phenomenon. Inspiration of air occurs passively when the pressure of air outside the body is significantly higher than that within the lungs. Biology Laboratory Manual A/Chapter

6 4. Predicting A person with the respiratory disease asthma has difficulty exhaling a normal amount of air. How would asthma affect vital capacity? Explain your answer. Asthma would reduce vital capacity because less air than normal can move into a lung that does not empty normally. 5. Inferring Aerobic exercise, such as running or swimming, can result in an increase of vital capacity. Suggest a reason for this increase. Students may suggest that the body responds to an increased need for oxygen by increasing the volume of air it takes in with each breath. Going Further The vital capacity of the lungs is affected by the anatomical build of a person, the position of the person during the vital capacity measurement, and the stretching capability of the lungs and chest cavity. Measure the vital capacity of your lungs while sitting up and then while lying down. In each position, inhale as much air into your lungs as possible and exhale as much air as you can into a balloon. Measure the diameter of the balloon each time. Compare your vital capacity in each position. Suggest an explanation for any difference between the two volumes. Students should find that vital capacity is greater when standing up. Some students may realize that the diaphragm tends to move downward in a standing posture, while when lying down, there is less downward force on the diaphragm, reducing the volume of the lungs. 266 Biology Laboratory Manual A/Chapter 37

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