It gives you filthy breath. It makes your teeth yellow. It makes you
cough and affects your ability to breath. It’s expensive -- and it can
cost you your life.
These are some of the horrible lessons that Marshall Klapman’s
fifth-grade class at El Morro Elementary School learned about smoking
during a recent lab experiment.
The smoking project has been an effective teaching tool since being
implemented for fifth-graders at El Morro 15 years ago. The project is
part of science curriculum about lungs, their different parts and
Students learned that cigarettes cause serious health problems such as
emphysema, asthma and cancer.
Dr. James Selevan came to Klapman’s class to discuss the parts of the
lung and, as a medical expert, he answered the students’ questions.
After being taught about the functions of the lung, students built
models of the organ using two-liter, clear plastic soda bottles with two
white balloons inside. The students could see the inhalation and
exhalation by squeezing the bottle. A clear plastic tube went down to the
neck of the bottle to represent the cilia and the trachea. There were
also white cotton balls inside the balloons.
“We want to see the effect of smoking on the lungs and used cotton
inside the balloons. Because you obviously can’t see what’s going on
inside your lungs, so we assimilate,” Klapman said.
The experiment was conducted outside and the 26 students in Klapman’s
class wore surgical masks to protect themselves from the smoke. Parent
volunteers facilitated the project and the kids were not allowed to
handle anything flammable or touch the cigarettes.
The cigarettes were lit and placed in the model trachea. Students
watched as everything became darker and dirtier. The children began
noticing the effects right away and commented how black and nasty their
model was becoming after just a little bit of smoking. During the
hour-long experiment, the students’ models smoked about four cigarettes.
Klapman pointed out to the students after the lungs had smoked two
cigarettes the significant effects.
“That’s two cigarettes being smoked, imagine if the person smoked a
pack a day.”
“I think it’s beneficial for them to see what cigarettes do to your
lungs. Hopefully it will teach them a lesson not to smoke,” said Kristin
Kuhler, one of the parent volunteers.
Following the project, the students were to take home their models
and, with an adult, take out the cotton balls and examine how much damage
had been done.
“It’s great because it shows you how the trachea gets all brown and
black if they smoke, especially a pack a day. The experiment makes your
lungs black and you get cancer,” said Cindy Rameriz.
“I think it’s a great way for us to learn. If this is what happens
after only four cigarettes, imagine if you smoked a pack a day it’d be
really bad. I won’t smoke because I know what the damage it does to your
heart and lungs,” said Roy Herbert.
As the project came to a close, Klapman said he was pleased with what
the children saw and learned.
“I think they totally get the objection of the lesson and I think
they’ll remember this through school so when they see peers and family
members smoking, they won’t. It’s really powerful.”