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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Back to Basics: Lungs

When Henry and Leo were babies, I watched them breathe. Hearing your baby take his first breath and start wailing is the beginning of relationship that is as important to you as your own breathing. I think it is primal for mothers to make sure their babies take air into their lungs and let air out of their lungs. Even if it means we are up in the middle of night instead of getting precious minutes of sleep. I remember positioning Henry with rolled up towels so he could sleep on his side, fearing that he would stop breathing if I allowed him to sleep on his stomach, even though he really slept better that way. I loved to watch his little torso move up and down as he slept. It was beautiful.
Fast-forward almost 6 years later and my sweet baby boys are running, laughing, screaming bundles of energy. A lot of their breath is expelled on baseball fields, soccer fields, on bikes, and in running up and down the stairs. I let out a lot of hot air yelling at them to slow down, quiet down, and come down those same stairs. Breathing is no longer an event I watch in the still of the night (although I do sometimes sneak in for a peek). It is something I just depend on.
So, when I saw that there was a Sid activity about lungs this week, I was happy to go back to basics with my baby boys. And who doesn’t want to play with straws and bubbles?
I got us set up on the front patio with tall glasses of water and straws. Henry was fidgeting, as usual, asking if he could drink the water. Leo wanted to pour it on the flowers. To get them engaged, I started asking question about breathing: What do humans breathe? Where does the air go? What comes out? Do plants breathe? What do you think will happen when you blow softly into the straw?
They answered the questions eagerly and I reintroduced them to the terms oxygen, carbon dioxide, and photosynthesis. We talked about the lungs as an organ and how we need oxygen to live. It sounds like a complicated conversation, but in fact it was quite simple. And the fun part was trying it all out.
I first asked Henry and Leo to blow softly into the straws.
They laughed like they couldn’t believe I was letting them get away with such horrible table manners. Then I told them to blow really hard into the straw and feel their lungs working. The reaction was priceless. Water came spouting out of the glass and drenched their faces. They cackled and tried it again and again.
By this point neither Henry or Leo was interested in talking about lungs anymore, they just wanted to explore with the straws and water to see how wet they could get. And that was great because experimentation is the fun part.
While they go soaked, I went and found some bubble wands for our next part of the investigation. For the next hour or so we played with bubbles. At first, we were experiments with our lungs, seeing how what happened when we blew softly into the wand and then with more strength. Their predictions were mostly correct, but none of us anticipated the volume of bubbles that came out the wand with the stronger air for a sustained amount of time. All of sudden there were bubbles everywhere!
It was delightful to see Henry and Leo chasing bubbles around the front yard. It was like they were babies again, discovering the magic of bubbles for the first time. It was lovely family time, sitting on the grass, laughing, and experimenting with a bubble wand. And yes, we learned a bit about our lungs. And I got to watch my boys breathe for a while.

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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