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How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?

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How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?

In this activity (on page 142 of the PDF), learners will compare breathing rates before and after hyperventilation to explore how reduced carbon dioxide levels in the blood lower the need to breathe. This activity also includes information about how microgravity conditions in space affect sleep and breathing rates of astronauts. This activity can be enhanced by sharing the "Astronaut's Sleep" Podcast with learners (see related resource link). This resource guide includes background information and sample evaluation questions. Note: learners with respiratory ailments, such as asthma or allergies, should not participate in the breath-holding part of this activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

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


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Watch or access to a clock with a second hand
  • Chair
  • Pen or pencil
  • Note pad


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
      • Circulation
      • Health and Nutrition
      • Respiration
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Patterns
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Rate
    • Reasoning and Proof
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
  • 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


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • MacLeish, Marlene Y.; McLean, Bernice R.


  • Public Domain, NASA,


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