More than 100 girl scouts discovered the impressive capacities of their lungs Oct. 28 during Scouting for the Cure in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Christie Drew, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Program Analysis Branch, provided a lung capacity demonstration kit and other educational materials on environmental health.
The event was sponsored by the Girl Scouts of America — North Carolina Coastal Pines.
A way to see breath
The lung capacity kit measures forced expiratory volume, or FEV, using simple buckets, water, and tubing.
The girls, who were ages 8 to 11 years, each exhaled roughly two liters of air. Drew brought an empty two-liter soda bottle as an example of that volume.
“Whoa,” said one participant. “I have that much air in my lungs? Right now?” The vivid experience helped the girls grasp the concept of lung capacity and how it can be reduced by asthma, allergies, and other environmentally linked health concerns.
Scouting for the Cure
During the half-day event, scouts rotated through more than a dozen stations to learn about topics such as breast cancer awareness, preventing skin cancer, eating well, exercising, and reading ingredient labels.
Helping others was another focus of the day. Girls assembled Chemo Bags, with handmade cards, treats, and other amusements for cancer patients. “It was a fun day focused on learning and helping others,” Drew said.
Once a scout, always a scout
Drew’s participation came through the NIEHS Speakers Bureau (see sidebar), for which she had previously volunteered. “Christie stepped up with so much enthusiasm to volunteer her time on a Saturday,” said John Schelp, who coordinates the Speakers Bureau.
Drew was happy to give back to an organization that she credits with developing her leadership skills from an early age. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without 12 years of scouting,” she said.