Our Respiratory System
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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 5 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||cellular, passageway, pulmonary, inward, thereby, nitrogen, bloodstream, epiglottis, larynx, trachea, vapor, equally, respiratory, leading, colorless, beginning
||Evangelista Torricelli, Cart Scheele
Our Respiratory System
By Jennifer Kenny
1 Each day you breathe in and out whether you are awake or asleep. You don't have to think about it. It occurs every few seconds, every day, during every part of your life. You can't live without breathing. You need oxygen from the air you breathe to live and grow. Breathing takes air into the lungs and allows other air to be pushed out.
2 Well, we know breathing is important, but what is important in the air we breathe? Even ancient people knew that living things needed air to live, but they weren't sure what air really was. In 1643, Evangelista Torricelli proved that air wasn't a spirit. It had weight and took up space. In 1771, Cart Scheele discovered the very important ingredient, oxygen, in air. Scientists continue to study air, oxygen, and breathing even today.
3 Air, we know now, is actually a mixture of colorless gases. Four-fifths of air is nitrogen. One-fifth of air is oxygen. There's also some carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other gases, as well as particles of dust and pollen in air.
4 Today we also know that there are two kinds of respiration occurring in our body. One is the kind we usually think of - the breathing in and out of air through our lungs. The other kind is cellular respiration. It occurs in the cells in our body. The energy that our bodies use to keep us alive comes from the release of energy when food materials and oxygen go through chemical changes. It is from this process that energy is released from the foods that we eat. To have this occur in our cells, though, the oxygen has to get there first. So let's go back to the beginning.
5 Your nose and your mouth are the gateways to your respiratory system. The air then goes to the trachea. The trachea is a passageway leading to the lungs. The epiglottis guards the trachea so food can't get down it.
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