Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

E-Cigarettes: Fact or Myth?

Subject Area



9, 10, 11, 12


In this learning activity, students will be introduced to information regarding electronic cigarettes and vaping by answering Fact or Myth questions. Students will indicate their answers using whiteboards or by hand-raising. The teacher will be able to use student responses to gauge their understanding about the effects of electronic cigarettes and vaping on respiratory health. 

This learning activity was created as a result of the ALEX - Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) Resource Development Summit.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 09-12 - Human Anatomy and Physiology


    Develop and use a model to explain how the organs of the respiratory system function.

    Unpacked Content



    • Lung
    • ventilation
    • lower/ upper respiratory system
    • nose
    • quadrangular cartilage
    • nostrils/ nares
    • nasal cavity
    • paranasal sinuses
    • turbinates
    • pharynx
    • nasopharynx
    • adenoids
    • oropharynx
    • tonsils
    • laryngopharynx
    • glottis
    • larynx
    • vocal cords
    • epiglottis
    • thyroid cartilage
    • laryngeal prominence (adam's apple)
    • cricoid cartilage
    • arytenoid cartilage
    • trachea
    • primary bronchi
    • tracheal cartilage
    • bronchial tree
    • bronchi (secondary and tertiary)
    • bronchioles (terminal, respiratory)
    • brochoconstriction
    • bronchodilation
    • pleura (parietal, visceral), pleuritis
    • lobes, lobule
    • surfactant
    • alveolus
    • diaphragm
    • inspiration/ inhalation
    • expiration/ exhalation
    • phrenic nerve
    • intrapleural pressure
    • partial pressure
    • bronchitis
    • emphysema
    • ARDS
    • atelectasis
    • pneumothorax
    • bronchiectasis
    • COPD
    • sleep apnea
    • lung cancer
    • pneumonia
    • tuberculosis
    • tidal volume
    • vital capacity
    • residual volume
    • lung capacity


    Students know:
    • The respiratory system is composed of the upper respiratory system (nose, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx),and the lower respiratory system (larynx, trachea, bronchial tree and lungs).
    • Breathing is due to the action of the muscles and bones of the thorax and is controled by the antonomic and somatic nervous systems.
    • Inspiration is due to the contraction of the diaphram and expansion of the rib cage.
    • Alveoli expand and fill with air upon inspiration
    • The partial pressure of gases in the air determines the direction of diffusion during breathing.
    • Diseases of the respiratory system are either developmental (due to genetic conditions or lifestyle factors) or infectious (due to microorganisms).
    • Lifestyle plays a significant role in respiratory system aging. Aging can lead to a reduced ability to carry out respiration and reduced diffusion of gases across the alveoli.


    Students are able to:
    • Gather, read, and interpret scientific information about the respiratory system including its structures and their function.
    • Use evidence to develop a model of the respiratory system.
    • Develop a model to predict and show relationships among variables between the respiratory system and its components.
    • Use a model to collect respiratory function data.
    • Gather, read and interpret scientific information about environmental factors that may affect the respiratory system.
    • Gather, read and interpret scientific information about genetic factors that may affect the respiratory system.
    • Use evidence to form an argument about environmental or genetic factors that may cause pathological conditions in the respiratory system.
    • Use evidence to defend an argument about environmental or genetic factors that may cause pathological conditions in the respiratory system.
    • Evaluate counter-claims and revise argument based on evidence.


    Students understand that:
    • The respiratory system is made of several different tissues, and organs that move air in and out of the body.
    • The respiratory system closely interacts with the cardiovascular system performing gas exchange between capillaries and alveoli.
    • Numerous organs organs are structurally designed to play several different roles in the respiratory process.
    • Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of respiratory disorders.
    • Lifestyle choices and various medications can help alleviate respiratory disorders.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Developing and Using Models; Engaging in Argument from Evidence

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Cause and Effect; Structure and Function
    Science (2015) Grade(s): 09-12 - Human Anatomy and Physiology


    Engage in argument from evidence describing how environmental (e.g., cigarette smoke, polluted air) and genetic factors may affect the respiratory system, possibly leading to pathological conditions (e.g., cystic fibrosis).


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will be able to identify facts and myths about e-cigarettes and their effect on the respiratory system to prepare for engaging in argument from evidence on the topic. 

    Activity Details

    1. The teacher will project the Fact or Myth slideshow for student viewing.

    2. The teacher will explain to students that there will be a series of statements pertaining to electronic cigarettes and vaping, some of which are facts and some of which are myths. Students will be given 15-20 seconds to decide whether the statement is fact or myth. If using whiteboards, students will write “fact” or “myth” and hold up their board or students can raise their hands after the allotted 15-20 seconds.

    3. The teacher will project statements one at a time, allowing a few seconds for students to reflect on the statement and provide an answer.

    4. The teacher will ask students to hold up their boards or raise hands to demonstrate their answers. Call on a couple of students per statement to ask why they decided the statement was fact or myth. Do not explain the correct answer–students will determine whether they were correct based on the linked video and research in the following phase of the lesson (Research: Are E-Cigarettes Safe?).

    5. The teacher will project the video “Are E-Cigs Safer Than Cigarettes?” To access the video, go to the AVL website, click "High School" then "AccessScience (McGraw Hill)." Search for "e-cigs" then click on the video.

    6. The teacher will ask students to share anything that surprised them or changed their opinion about e-cigarettes after watching the video.

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    The teacher will assess student knowledge by taking note of how students answered the Fact or Myth prompts.


    Students who feel strongly about their opinions may share any facts or statistics they know pertaining to electronic cigarettes, vaping, and their effects on the respiratory system.



    Students who need more time to think about the statements can be given a print out of the Fact or Myth statements to look over or prepare prior to class.

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    0 to 15 Minutes

    Related Learning Activities

    Learning Activity (Before)

    Learning Activity (During)

    Learning Activity (After)

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Teacher Preparation:

    • Teacher should have a familiarity with the structures and functions of the respiratory system.
    • Teacher should be familiar with the Fact or Myth slideshow and whether the statements are true or false.
    • Teacher should be prepared to project the Fact or Myth slideshow for student viewing.
    • Teacher should be familiar with what electronic cigarettes are and their effects on general health and the respiratory system specifically.

    Student Preparation:

    • Students should have a familiarity with the structures and functions of the respiratory system.
    • Students should be familiar with what electronic cigarettes are.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Teacher Materials:

    Student Materials and Preparation:

    • Optional: whiteboards and dry erase markers
    • Optional: pencil/pen and paper

    Digital Tools / Resources