Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students will investigate the respiratory system and learn about lung function as they watch clips from the documentary film Dying to Live. They will follow the story of Holly, who received a double lung transplant due to severe lung damage caused by cystic fibrosis. Teachers will lead students through a range of visual and written resources and practical components that explicitly teach the anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system. Students will also apply their understandings to model impaired lung function which may represent lung damage caused by illnesses.

Dying To Live is a documentary feature film that examines organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Australia through seven different stories that highlight the social, physical and emotional effects of being on the organ donor waiting list. The film also aims to dispel myths about organ and tissue donation while encouraging family conversations so that family members are aware of their loved ones’ donation intentions. Find out how to screen or view the film here.

Learning intentions:

  • Students know and understand the anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system, and how it interacts with other body systems.
  • Students understand how gas exchange occurs at a cellular level.
  • Students use practical activities to model healthy and impaired lung function.
  • Students are aware of organ and tissue donation and understand the role they play in the process.

21st century skills: 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 8 Science

  • Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs carrying out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce (ACSSU150)

Year 9 Science

  • Multi-cellular organisms rely on coordinated and interdependent internal systems to respond to changes to their environment (ACSSU175)
  • Values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (ACSHE228)

Syllabus outcomes: SC4-14LW, SC5-14LW,  SCLS-17LW, SCLS-18LW, SCLS-19LW, SCLS-20LW, SCLS-21LW

General capabilities: Literacy, Ethical Understanding, Personal and Social Capability

Relevant parts of Year 8 achievement standards: Students analyse the relationship between structure and function at cell, organ and body system levels.

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: Students analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies, energy transfers and flows of matter. They describe social and technological factors that have influenced scientific developments and predict how future applications of science and technology may affect people’s lives.

Topic: Social Issues, Learning Through Film

Unit of work: Dying to Live – Science – Year 9

Time required: 80 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – lead students through visual materials, discussions and basic laboratory procedures.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student, or device to access electronic copy. Teacher device capable of projecting video and other media. Lesson Presentation: Lungs (optional). Beakers, small kitchen strainers (e.g. tea strainers) or filter paper and funnels, and at least 3 different concentrations of pulp orange juice (see full material list in Teacher Worksheet). Safety glasses for practical activity and appropriate PPE. Respiratory System Role Play (optional).

Related Professional Development: Exploring General Capabilities: Ethical Understanding

Keywords: Organ and tissue donation, respiratory system, body system, lungs, cystic fibrosis, organ transplant, gas exchange, Dying to Live.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Cool Australia, Aquarius Productions and Intrinsic Story would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of GoodPitch² Australia, Shark Island Institute, and Documentary Australia Foundation in the development of these teaching resources.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • ...know and understand the anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system, and how it interacts with other body systems.
  • ...understand how gas exchange occurs at a cellular level.
  • ...use practical activities to model healthy and impaired lung function.
  • aware of organ and tissue donation and understand the role they play in the process.

Success criteria:

Students can…

  • ...recognise and label the human respiratory system.
  • ...recall how air travels through the respiratory system using appropriate terminology.
  • ...apply their understanding of the respiratory system to explain how lung-related illnesses cause reduced function.
  • ...recognise and understand that organ donation is a life-saving procedure for critically ill Australians, and is an important topic to discuss at home.

Teacher content information: Organ and tissue donation are not always easy topics for discussion. However, with an average

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Breathing is something many of us take for granted. But for people with lung-related illnesses, breathing freely is a gift.

How Do We Breathe?

1. The image below shows the human respiratory system. Add the following labels to the image below:

2. Using the information from your labelled diagram and the animation, create a flowchart in your workbook like the one below to describe the respiratory system process.

3. Look closely at the image below which shows damage to lung tissue.

Discuss with a peer or your class how this damage would affect normal breathing and gas exchange. List your ideas below.

4. To demonstrate how lung damage impacts the effectiveness of the respiratory system, complete the following practical activity to model lung function. You will need the following materials:

  • 8 x 100 mL beakers
  • 4 x small kitchen strainers (e.g. tea leaf strainers) or filter paper and a funnel
  • 4 different concentrations of pulp orange juice in water
- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.