Science experiments are used to help students of all ages discover and understand scientific truth. When science experiments are used in the church classroom or worship session they help children discover not only scientific truth but also spiritual truth that can be applied to their daily lives. They also allow children to be involved in hands-on learning rather than merely listening to a lecture or observing a demonstration. And, perhaps most important, science experiments provide memorable moments that spark interest, command attention, and bring truth to life.
For science experiments that WOW the children in your audience remember these important things:
- Set up all supplies ahead of time. You lose momentum and interest if you are not ready to go at just the right moment.
- Practice! Practice! Practice! Science experiments are only memorable and meaningful if they work. Never do something for the first time in front of children. Just because something sounds good on paper doesn’t mean it is going to work.
- As much as possible, don’t demonstrate science experiments. Let the children do the science experiments either in small groups or individually. It will take more supplies, structure, and good instruction but will have a much greater WOW effect on the children.
- Be sure to move children from the abstract scientific truth illustrated to an understanding of the concrete, practical truth that can be applied to their daily lives. Do this by—
- sharing a Bible story and/or real life story that illustrates the truth
- asking good questions related to the Bible story and truth
- providing children opportunities to share how they are going to apply the Bible truth
- praying together concerning obeying this Bible truth
IDEAS YOU CAN USE
Bible Truth: The Holy Spirit gives me power.
Bible Verse: Acts 1:8
Bible Lesson: Peter Preaches after Receiving the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:1-41
Empty film canisters (The clear type with interior-fitting lids)
Share the story of the disciples receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Emphasize how the Holy Spirit made Peter bold enough to stand and speak to thousands of men and women. Help the children discover that the Holy Spirit will give them boldness (power, authority) to do what God has planned for them to do.
Give each child or group of children a film canister. This represents their life. Fill their canisters with water. The water represents the living water, Jesus, that enters their lives when they are saved. Show the children an Alka-Seltzer tablet. The Alka-Seltzer tablet represents the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the baptism of the Holy Spirit would give power (authority, boldness). Have the children quickly add the Alka-Seltzer to the film canister, snap on the lid, and stand back. In a few seconds the lid will pop off! Emphasize that just as the Alka-Seltzer tablet created power to pop off the lid; the Holy Spirit gives us power to God’s work.
Protected from Harm
Bible Truth: God protects me when I trust Him.
Bible Verse: Psalm 18:2, 3
Bible Lesson: Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Daniel 6
Clear drinking glass
Piece of paper
Bucket (taller than the glass)
Put water in the bucket
Share the Bible story in Daniel 6. Lead the children to discover that God protected Daniel because Daniel obeyed God and trusted Him to help when he was in trouble. Then share the Bible verse. Discuss God’s protection in our lives. List several things that children might need God to protect them from. Explain that we can’t always see God’s protection, but it is always with us. Write the children’s names on the piece of paper if you have a small group. Wad the paper up and stuff it inside of the glass. Make sure it remains against the bottom of the glass. Explain that the glass reminds us of God and His protection. The bucket filled with water represents troubles or problems. You might even write the problems you discussed on file cards and tape them to the bucket. Turn the glass upside down and push it directly into the water. Then lift the glass out of the water. (Do not tilt the glass when you lift it out!) Take the paper out of the glass. It will still be dry. Remind the children that sometimes God takes the problem away, and sometimes He is with us in the midst of the problem. Either way, the problem does not harmus, just as the water did not harm the piece of paper.
Power of Words
Bible Truth: My words can be hurtful and destructive.
Bible Verse: Proverbs 25:18, “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.”
Clear plastic drinking cup
Flat or square toothpick
Coin such as a nickel
Set up a model and practice!
After sharing the Bible story, give each child or team of children a coin, toothpick, and plastic drinking cup. Have them stand the coin up on its edge on a flat surface and then balance the toothpick across the top of the coin. Cover this balanced combination with a clear cup. Have the child rub their hair with the balloon several times. Hold the balloon near the plastic cup and watch the toothpick move! Once all of the children have finished, explain that the toothpick represents people and the balloon represents our words. Ask the children to tell you some gossip phrases they know. Using a permanent marker, write some of them on the balloon. Demonstrate again how the balloon moved the toothpick and eventually caused it to fall. This is exactly what happens to people when we gossip about them. We don’t have to physically hit someone to hurt them. Our words can hurt and often cause more harm than a physical fight.
Do You Trust Me?
Bible Truth: I can trust God because He wants the best for me.
Bible Verse: Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
Bible Lesson: Any Bible lesson involving courage and trust in God.
File card or small piece of cardboard
Small plastic tub
PRACTICE! YOU DO NOT WANT TO SPILL WATER ON SOMEONE’S HEAD
Ask for a brave volunteer who really trusts you. Make a big deal about this person being really brave. Ask them several times if they trust you. Once they have assured you that they are brave and really do trust you have them sit down on a chair. Holding the glass over the plastic tub, fill it to overflowing with water. (There can be no bubbles in the water.) Place a piece of cardboard or a file card on top of the glass. Carefully, invert it over the volunteer’s head. If you have done this correctly, they won’t get wet! Use this as an introduction to any Bible lesson involving courage or trust.
New In Christ
Bible Truth: In Christ Jesus I am made brand new!
Bible Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Bible Lesson: Zaccheus Becomes a New Person, Luke 19:1-8
Dirty/Old Copper Coins
Fill small cups (3 oz.) with lemon juice
Before sharing the story of Zaccheus give each child or team a few dirty, old copper coins. Talk about how old the coins are and how they may have gotten so dirty. Then let them put the coins in the cups of lemon juice to soak as you tell the Bible story.
There was a man in the Bible who reminds me of these dirty coins. His name was Zaccheus and he was a tax collector who took money from poor people. He gave some of the money to the government but much of it he kept for himself. Zaccheus’ life became filled with the dirtiness of sin because he lied, cheated, stole, and was unkind.
Then Jesus came to visit Zaccheus. Zaccheus realized that Jesus loved him and was willing to forgive him for the dirty things in his life. He accepted Jesus’ love and forgiveness and was cleansed (forgiven) of selfishness and unkindness. He immediately offered to return the money he had taken wrongfully. The old, sinful Zaccheus became a brand new person who was kind and willing to share.
Let the children remove their coins from the lemon juice and place on paper towels. What has happened to the coins? The lemon juice made the coins like brand new.
Jesus can do just the same for you. Maybe your life is filled with unkindness, selfishness and other sinful things. Jesus says that if we will admit these things he will forgive us and cleanse us. Then He makes us brand new on the inside just as He did Zaccheus.
(All of these web sites have great experiments, but you’ll have to use your own creativity and spiritual understanding to apply a Biblical truth to the experiment.)
Fun Science That Teaches God’s Word by Susan Martins Miller and Mary Grace Becker. Published by Cook Communications, 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918; 800-323-7543; www.cookministries.com
ISBN/SPCN: 0781440815 Cost: $19.99
60 activities that reflect God’s incredible creation in science; arranged in four categories: Earth, Wind, Fire and Goo; Simple Know-How Science; Not What It Seems; and Tagalongs (science with a craft or reproducible project).
Even the Sound Waves Obey Him by Nancy B. Kennedy. Published by Concordia Publishing, 3558 S. Jefferson, St. Louis, MO 63118-3968; 800-325-3040; www.cph.org Cost: $11.99
Put the “wow” factor into your messages with quick and easy science experiments. Here are 44 familiar Bible stories paired with fail-safe, attention-grabbing activities. Each uses easy-tofind materials and has explanations of the science and Bible concepts. In no time at all you’ll be making coins chatter, sugar “frogs” hop, and marbles float.
Originally printed as the Volume 11, Issue 8 of the CM Newsletter, August 2007, Contributing Editor: Melissa Minter