Introduction: Respiratory Model

Grade: 6-8

STL 14 - Students will develop an understanding of and be able to select and use Medical Technologies.

  • 14-F: Many tools and devices have been designed to help provide clues about health to provide a safe environment
  • 14-G: Advances and Innovations in medical technologies are used to improve health care

Objective: Students will gain an understanding about how advances and innovations in medical technologies are used to improve health care by using lungs work. The respiratory system works together using volume and pressure to inhale and exhale. Parts and organs demonstrated in this model include, the lungs, diaphragm larynx, and ribcage.

Timeline: 20-30 minutes

Ask - What are simple yet informative ways to learn about medical technologies? What medical technologies can follow along the guidelines of the standards of technological literacy and how can I best explain one?

Imagine - Creating a X-Ray machine is a little tricky, but I can demonstrate what an X-Ray machine would see with ease!

Plan - Planning includes gathering and division of materials.

Create - We will get to that soon :)

Improve - To improve this project, students could experiment with the respiratory model in various ways

  • What happens when one of the pathways are blocked?
  • Using different bottles and balloons to demonstrate different lung capacities

Questions To Ask:

  • How do the lungs and diaphragm move? (inversely or together)
  • What can be shown by an X-Ray when looking at the lungs?


  • 3 Latex Ballons
  • 2 Plastic Straws
  • 1 Water Bottle
  • Roll of Duct Tape

Cost Estimation - $3 per model

Step 1: Model Larynx and Lungs

We will use straws to signify our larynx (air passage) and balloons for signify the lungs

  1. Place the straw about 1/4 of the way into the balloon
  2. Roll balloon stem around straw
  3. Tape the stem of the ballon to the straw, creating a seal
  4. Repeat step 1-3 to create your set of lungs

Be sure to not place the straw too deep into the balloon; the balloon will not inflate properly if the straws are touching the very bottom.

Step 2: Cut Holes

Our water bottle top will be used to create a seal and holding mechanism for the respiratory system.

Using scissors (or a drill), carefully cut out 2 holes into the middle of the water bottle top with the diameter of each hole being equal to the size of the straw.

Step 3: Place Straws Into Top

Using your 2 lung models, poke each straw through the water bottle top holes.

Use tape to close any openings between the top and straws to secure your seal, this is vital to the pressure/volume relationship shared between the lungs and diaphragm.

Step 4: Cut Water Bottle

Our water bottle will represent the rib cage for our lungs.

  1. Cut your water bottle about 3/4 from the top, leaving plenty of room for the lungs to fill.
  2. Tape the edges of your water bottle with duct tape, so our balloon is not cut by possible sharp edges.

Step 5: Model Diaphragm

Our 3rd balloon and the bottom of the water bottle will represent our diaphragm.

  1. Cut about 1/3 of the balloon off, Leaving the larger part of the balloon to be used.
  2. Stretch the balloon over the bottom of the water bottle
  3. Tape the edge of the balloon and the water bottle together

Step 6: Put Lungs Into Bottle

Our finally step is to screw on our cap, leaving our balloons inside a pressurized environment!

Step 7: And Done!

There you have it. A model of the respiratory system for student through grades 6-8, who would like to gain an understanding on medical technologies.

If you breathe into the straws, the all of the balloons inflate due to changes in pressure. This correlation is explained by Boyle's Law, stating that a fixed gas, at a constant temperature will have pressure and volume inverted proportionally.

In other words, as the lungs are filled with air, the diaphragm contracts and flattens downwards. And vice versa, when the air from the lungs leaves, the diaphragm inflates and moves upward.

Advancements in X-

Hope you enjoyed my instructable!