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"SCIENCE" and STORYTELLING Workshop Lessons and Ideas for Nicodemus

This thread is for posting Science and Storytelling Workshop Lessons and Ideas for Nicodemus, John 3.

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The experiments used food stuff, so it's not completely a stretch. Also note that we did this as part of "Super Surfin' Summer Sundays" hence some strange references to fish. -- Lisa



Summary of Lesson Activities:

Each of these demonstrations are designed to lead into a story truth:

Food coloring added to soda leads to the discussion of whether the soda is the same (taste, smell, touch, sound) or different (look) leading to a discussion of someone who is born again.

Pepper floats on water and can't be separated. With a little dish soap, the pepper is pushed to the side, leading to a discussion about sin and Jesus taking away sin.

Outcome Objectives:

  • Children will discuss the concept "born again."
  • Children will understand the difference between real change and change that is only on the surface.
  • Children will understand that Jesus is needed to remove our sin.

Supply List:

Project 1

  • Clear soda, such as 7 up
  • Food coloring (red, green, blue - yellow is too subtle)
  • Plastic coffee stirrers, or wooden craft sticks
  • Clear serving cups

Project 2

  • Tub of water
  • Pitcher or ladle (for getting water)
  • Mixing bowls (one for every 2-3 children) (try and have a clear bowl for yourself)
  • Ground Pepper (lots and lots)
  • Dish soap (keep this hidden)
  • Strainers, washcloth, paper towels, etc. for children to try to separate pepper.

Leader Preparation:

  • Gather the materials.
  • Try the experiments
  • Read the story ahead of time.



Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Explain who Nicodemus was...a member of the ruling elders, the Council. Why did he have to meet Jesus at night?

"Decode" the concepts/images in this passage prior to reading.
Each of these means something other than what it means on the surface.

Night, Born from Above, Water, Spirit, Wind, Flesh, Born, Son of Man. See if the children come up with their own definitions, then fill in the blanks.

Read John 3:3-5 and discuss the concepts "kingdom of God" and "born again."
How are WE like Nicodemus embarrassed to come to Jesus? What's so dangerous or potentially embarrassing about being known as one of his followers? How do we hide our faith from our friends and family? Why do we do that?

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

IMPORTANT: Always practice science-tvpe experiments Before presenting them to
class. A botched lesson loses its impact!!!

Project 1
Divide children into pairs and give each pair two cups and one stirrer. Pour soda in each child's cup. Allow them to take a small sip of it, but explain that they need it for their science experiment, so leave it full.

Explain that you will be dropping food coloring in each of the two cups. One cup the children are supposed to simply observe. The other cup the children may stir the mixture.

Hand out predictions papers and have children fill them in. (Having an older and younger child work together will help non-readers.)

There are at least two possible object lessons to experiment # 1.

  1. The soda didn't really change. It looks different, but it tastes and smells and
    sounds the same. What kind of change is Jesus looking for Nicodemus to do?
    Superficial change or real change? What's the difference?
  2. The food color got mixed quicker when we stirred it. Jesus is like that stirring
    stick. It's possible to make changes in your life apart from God, but when we ask
    God to come into our lives, the change is much more thorough. The second point will be emphasized in project #2, but if you think you won't have time for the second experiment, bring up that point here as well.

Project #2
Have various objects that children can use to try and separate the water and pepper, but conceal the real solution, which is dish soap.

Work with children to fill in first three sections of the worksheet.
Have them gather around as you sprinkle pepper on the water. Explain that trying to get sin out of your life without Jesus is like trying to strain the pepper out of the water - it is difficult and doesn't work very well. (Sneak a little dish soap onto the tip of your finger) Explain Jesus takes away sin when we believe in him. With Jesus all sin is wiped away. As you say this, touch your finger lightly to the water. All the pepper should move to the sides, leaving clean water.

Reveal the secret of the dish soap and have children fill in section 4 of the worksheet. Let the children experiment "With Jesus all sin is wiped away" using dish soap. (They may need to start with fresh water and fresh pepper to make it work).

Worksheet answers:
First section: Water is a symbol for LIFE Second section: Pepper is a symbol for SIN Fourth section: Soap is a symbol for JESUS

Science explanation: Water has a very fine skin that covers the surface. When you put something like pepper on top, it floats on the surface of that skin. Dish soap breaks that skin and pushes the pepper away.

Faith explanation: Christ's forgiveness washes away our sin.


Discuss conclusion questions. Read again the sections of scripture pertaining to being born again, and memory verse.
Say a prayer thanking God for taking away our sin. Enjoy your colorful soda.

To Take Home:
Kaleidoscopes or fish sunglasses.
Significance: Jesus challenged Nicodemus, and us, to look at life a different way.

Adjustments for age levels and abilities:
Pair readers and non-readers together. If all the children are younger, ask an extra adult to sit in on class and write notes for the experiments.

If time runs short...
Perform the second project as a "magic trick" saying "With Jesus all sin is wiped away" without going through the worksheets. Going through the lesson as written will have greater impact, but the main point will get across this way, as well.

If you have extra time...
Give the children a blank paper and invite them to create their own experiment that

Be creative...
Any other good science projects that you think would do a better job getting the message across? Think through the theological meaning of the experiment to make sure it is really saying what you want it to say, and decide how to present it to the children.

A lesson written by Lisa Martin from: Trinity UCC,
Pottstown, PA

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer
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