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Respiratory System Function Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Your respiratory system lets you breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. But that's not all it does! In this lesson, we'll discuss the respiratory system, how it helps you breathe and how you can breathe constantly without trying.

Respiratory System

Do you like to sing, laugh and whisper secrets? Did you know that you couldn't do any of those things without your respiratory system? The respiratory system is made up of the organs and other parts that control breathing. Its most important job is to bring oxygen into your body and get rid of carbon dioxide. But, your respiratory system also helps you make noises.

Vocal cords
Vocal Cords

When you breathe, air moves over your vocal cords and causes them to vibrate. This vibration makes sound. The amount of air passing over your vocal cords determines how loud the sound will be. If you want to shout, you'd better take a deep breath. Shouting requires a lot of air!

Now, let's talk about just how you breathe in and out.

Breathing In

The act of breathing in is called inhalation. Did you ever notice that you can breathe air in through your nose or your mouth? Air can come into your respiratory system through either your nostrils or your mouth. That air gets drawn into your throat and passes through your voice box, which is where your vocal cords are found! Your voice box sits on top of your trachea, or windpipe, which is the main tube that carries air to your lungs.

You have two lungs that sit inside your chest. The one on the left is smaller than the one on the right, because the left one has to make some room for the heart.

Inside your lungs, the air travels into tubes that branch off and get smaller and smaller, like twigs on a tree. The air you inhaled contained a gas called oxygen, which is essential for your cells to do their jobs and for keeping you alive.

Alveoli with capillaries
alveoli

At the end of the tubes are tiny air sacs called alveoli. There are so many alveoli in one of your lungs that it if you laid them out, they would cover the size of a tennis court! The alveoli are covered by tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Oxygen from the air you breathed passes out of your alveoli and into the capillaries. The oxygen is now in your blood and can travel to every cell of your body!

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