Science Projects: Smoking & Its Effects on the Lungs

Smoking has a number of serious effects on the lungs.
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Smoking has a number of serious ill effects on health. Though smoking affects both the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, students can undertake a number of science projects to vividly show the effects of smoking on the lungs. These can vary from experiments, to presenting data and studies by doctors and scientists, to speaking with patients who smoke with damaged lungs.

Visually Represent Effects of Smoking on Lungs

One project is to create a machine to suck cigarette smoke into a sealed environment with a material to simulate the human lung. A wet sponge is an appropriate proxy for the lung. Students should place a wet sponge in a jar they partially seal off, leaving only room for a device to suck air into the jar and an apparatus to hold a lighted cigarette. The student, with the aid of a parent, then sucks the smoke from the cigarette into the jar and sees what happens to the sponge after its exposure to the smoke.

Effect of Cigarette Filters on Smoke

Many cigarettes come with filters that claim to reduce the amount chemicals that smokers inhale. Reducing the amount of chemicals in the smoke would theoretically mitigate the effects of smoking on the human lungs. Students can repeat the Section 1 experiment using different kinds of cigarettes (such as unfiltered, regular and light) with different sponges. Students can then compare the appearance of the sponges after the experiment to see what, if any, effect the filters have.

Smoking and Lung Cancer

Many smokers die of cancer. One student project could present the data on the occurrence of lung cancer in smokers and non-smokers. They can ask whether smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. They should also address the question of whether the scientists performing those studies were able to say that the difference between the rates of cancer in smokers and non-smokers is great enough to justify the statement that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer.

Real-Life Examples

Students can present real-life examples of the effects of smoking on the human lung. These can include pictures of the lungs of non-smoking individuals compared to the lungs of smokers. The signs of the damage smoking inflicts on the lung will be immediately obvious. This display can include pictures of the outside of the lung, then autopsy images of cross-sections of the inside of the lungs of smokers and non-smokers, to show the extent of the damage smoking can cause.

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