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Am J Physiol. 1995 Dec;269(6 Pt 3):S32-6.

Hearts, lungs, and children: a physiologist returns to kindergarten.

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Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262, USA.


Scientific illiteracy is a prevalent problem: between kindergarten and high school, most children progressively lose their inherent affinity for science exploration. The correction of this deficiency requires vigorous participation by the scientific community. This paper details my experiences introducing kindergartners to the basics of cardiorespiratory physiology: pulmonary ventilation and circulatory transport of oxygen. More important, my presentation gives children an opportunity to participate in the process of scientific inquiry and to discover and explore the mystique of real hearts and lungs. The children and their teachers truly enjoy the demonstration. In particular, my use of animal organs meets with phenomenal success: the children are enchanted by my inflation and their exploration of pig lungs, and one teacher told me weeks afterward that her students were still "bragging of how they touched a real heart and lung." Young children delight in science exploration and marvel at the wonder inherent to physiology. Armed with an intriguing hands-on presentation and a spirit of adventure and fun, any scientist can return to kindergarten. The rewards are likely to be profound.

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