• Jessica Evans

DIY: How do lungs work?


Your body is a complex collection of different organs and systems all working together to make you happen. One of these systems is the pulmonary system, or, simply put, your lungs.

But how your lungs work can be a little confusing when you first start learning about it. Once you get the hang of it though, you'll never forget how they work. Here's a simple DIY you can do to help you get there. Happy learning!

What you’ll need:

  • A used plastic bottle

  • Three balloons

  • Scissors

  • Two straws

  • Prestick

  • Elastic bands

  • Paper labels (optional)


How to do it:

  1. Cut your plastic bottle in half. You’ll only use the top half.

  2. Cut one balloon in half and stretch the half without the opening around the bottle where the bottom half was attached.

  3. Tie the other two balloons to each to their own straw using the elastic bands. Make sure they’re tightly attached.

  4. Insert the balloons on their straws into the bottle. They don’t need to be too deep.

  5. Seal the bottle with the straws inside using prestick around the opening. Now your model is complete.

  6. To illustrate how lungs work, slowly pull the bottom balloon downwards and upwards and observe how the two inner balloons change.

How it works:

This model works the exact same way as real lungs. The bottom balloon is the diaphragm. As it moves downwards, it creates a vacuum in the rib cage (the plastic bottle), causing the lungs (the two inner balloons) to inflate and fill the gap.

Your diaphragm is a muscle, so of course it contracts and relaxes. It's this movement that gets your lungs to inflate and deflate. When your diaphragm contracts, it flattens and makes the thoracic cavity bigger, causing the lungs to take in air. When it relaxes, it becomes concave, and makes the thoracic cavity smaller, forcing air out of the lungs.


Facts about lungs:

  • Your left lung is smaller than your right lung because it has to accommodate for your heart.

  • Your right lung is shorter than your left lung because it has to accommodate for your liver.

  • You can survive with only one lung.

  • Many amphibians breathe through their skins, even though they do have lungs.

  • Your left lung consists of two lobes, while your right lung consists of three.

  • Your lungs are not hollow, but are filled with lots of tiny sacs called alveoli (singular alveolus).

  • The diaphragm is an involuntary muscle, like the heart, so it doesn't need to be told to do it's job like, say, your leg muscles.

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©2018 by Bite-sized Sci | Jessica Evans