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In this environmental health activity, learners investigate their own vital lung capacities. Learners use milk jugs, plastic tubing, water, and a plastic tub to build a Lungometer, a device to measure their lung capacity. Learners will graph and compare group results. This lesson guide includes background information and bilingual (English/Spanish) handouts. Note: learners with asthma or other breathing problems should not measure their vital lung capacities.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • Beaker or marked container, 500-1,000 mL
  • Crayon or permanent marker (dark colors)
  • Milk jug with lid, 1-gal size
  • Piece of plastic tubing, 0.5-2 cm diameter, 45 cm in length (18 in.)
  • Plastic tub, 10-qt size
  • Self-adhesive notepad, 1-1/2 in. x 2 in.
  • Water
  • Copies of student sheets
  • Prepared mouthpieces (plastic drinking straws cut in half)


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
      • Respiration
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
    • Number and Operations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Moreno, Nancy P. ; Tharp, Barbara Z. ; Dresden, Judith H.


  • All rights reserved, Baylor College of Medicine, 2010

Funding Sources:

  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, R25 ES06932
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, R25 ES010698