The Walk to Emmaus:
New Science Workshop
Summary of Lesson Activities:
[Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.] Through demonstration and hands-on exercises, children will explore the concept of how we view objects around us. Students will discuss “seeing” or recognizing Jesus. What can make it difficult to recognize Jesus in our midst?
For scripture and objectives
- see above.
Read Bible Background and scripture.
- Blank sheet of paper (one per student; can be scrap paper)
- Worksheet for science experiments (one per student)
- Pencils or pens (one per student)
- A US penny and a U.S. dollar coin
- Sheet of paper cut into an 6 x 6 square, one pair of scissors
- A noise-making device, for example: two wooden blocks
- Printed instructions for each of the experiment stations to be used (see end of lesson)
- Additional materials for each station... Gather items for the experiment stations you intend to use. (Note: Try to have enough of each material at a station so that all students can be doing an experiment at a station at the same time – in other words, no one is standing around waiting.)
- Two or three small mirrors
- two colors of markers (at least 3 of each color)
- Examples of “Magic Eye” Puzzles (Check out your public library.
Station 3: “Visual puzzles”
- Print outs of puzzles – (suggested 3 for 1st & 2nd grade, 5 for 3rd and up - see resource list). Use the Internet to access examples of visual puzzles or illusions. Hint - Don’t use too many puzzles or kids won’t be ready to move to next station. If a puzzle has an “answer,” include the answer but have it covered up.
- Index cards, 3" x 5" -- On each card, draw a dot on one end (about 2 cm in) and draw a cross on the other end. On one of the cards draw a line across the entire card through the center of the dot and the cross.
- Colored markers
- Metal juice can lids
- Hammer and a nail
- Paper and pencil -- Trace circles on paper using the lid. Cut out. Color circles in a variety of ways – example a circle that is half yellow and half red or a circle that is half yellow and half blue. (Try other combinations). Use a hammer and a nail to punch a small divot in the center of each lid (this makes the lid into a simple spinning top). Tape the papers to the lids.
- Use the Internet to print out a “dot picture” (see Resources) or create your own. Attach it to a clipboard.
Advance Preparation Requirements
- In the center of a sheet of copy paper, trace around a penny. Carefully cut an exact penny-sized opening. Practice how to pass the dollar coin through the penny-sized hole.
- Determine the experiment stations you intend to use. (You may choose to do fewer stations if time is limited or the size of your class is small.) Set up the experiment stations with supplies. Try out each of the experiment stations for yourself.
- Print instructions for each station to be used (see below). Using a word processor, create a customized worksheet for the stations selected (see below). Leave space on the sheet for students to write their answers. The worksheet isn’t required but keeps the kids focused on the lesson. Print one worksheet copy per student.
Station 1: Draw a Mirror
- Printed Instructions: (1) Draw a curvy line on a piece of paper. (2) Using a different colored marker, see if you can trace over your line but don’t look at the line you drew! Instead, look at a reflection of the line in a mirror. (No peeking at what you actually drew on the paper!)
- Worksheet Words: (1) Was this hard or easy to do? (2) Why do you think so? (3) If you practiced at this sort of exercise, would it get easier?
Station 2: “Magic Eye” puzzles.
- Printed Instructions: (1) Hold a picture so the center of the picture almost touches your nose. (2) Look at the picture without focusing on any one part. Slowly move the picture away from your face. Keep your eyes relaxed and unfocused!
- Worksheet Words: (1) What does the picture look like when you look at it in a normal way? (2) What did you see when you followed the instructions? (3) If you try looking at the same picture again does it get easier to see the “surprise”?
Station 3: “Visual Puzzles”
- Printed Instructions: See if you can solve the puzzles shown.
- Worksheet Words: (1) Was each puzzle hard, or easy to do? (2) If the puzzle had an “answer”, when you saw the answer did the puzzle then seem really easy? (3) What surprising thing did you learn?
Station 4: “Your Blind Spot”
- Printed Instructions: Using the card with just a cross and a dot, with the cross on the right, hold the card so it is an arm’s length away. Close your right eye. Look at the cross with your left eye. Focusing on the cross, slowly move the card towards your face. Keep focusing on the cross but notice what happens to the dot.
- Worksheet Words: (1) What happened to the dot as you moved the card in closer? (2) Does the same result occur if you close your left eye and focus your right eye on the dot? (3) If you try this experiment using the card with a line across it, what do you notice?
Station 5: “Color Wheel”
- Printed Instructions: Predict what you’ll see before you spin each lid.
- Worksheet Words: (1) What colors did you observe? (2) What color would you expect to see when spinning a black and white disk? (3) What about a multi-color disk?
Station 6: “Dot Pictures”
- Printed Instructions: Look at the picture – first close up, then from across the room.
- Worksheet Words: (1) When looking close up, can you tell what the picture is? (2) What about from far away? (3) Your brain is always (well, mostly always) trying to make sense of what you see. What do you think your brain is doing in this case?
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Science Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Open with prayer.
A suggestion: “Dear God, We are thankful that long ago you sent your son Jesus to teach people about your love. Help us today to recognize the love that Jesus offers for each of us. Amen."
Ask: What if I told you that sometimes you and I might see the same thing, but it would mean something very different to both of us? Would you agree that could happen?
Say: In Science, we ask a question, make a guess at the answer, and then we test out our guess with experiments. Let’s do a little experiment.
Do: Distribute a piece of paper and a pencil to each student.
Say: I will give you some instructions and you will draw on the paper what you hear me say.
Ask: Would you guess that you would be able to do as I ask? (allow a few replies)
Say: Let’s test out our guess. You have one minute to draw an animal with four legs, two ears and whiskers.
After one minute of drawing time, continue.
Say: I’m going to count to three and everyone will show the group their pictures. Ready? One, two, three.
Take a moment to look at the pictures.
Ask: Do we all have the same drawing? What are some of the drawings we have?
But, didn’t we all hear the same directions?
Why is it that we have different drawings?
Say: Sometimes we may have the same information but we interpret it or “see” it differently. Today we will explore about how we “see” things
Say: We are learning a Bible story about two people who were walking from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. This took place on the very first Easter.
Ask: What happened on the very first Easter? (Jesus rose from the dead)
Say: It is early evening on the very first Easter -- on the day Jesus rose from the dead. So far just a few of the women have seen Jesus alive. They have told the other disciples what they saw but the other disciples didn’t believe these women. They didn’t know what to think.
Ask: Since our story took place on the very first Easter, where would we find our story?
Say: Stories about Jesus are found in the New Testament of the Bible.
Ask: What is the name we give to the portion of the New Testament where we find stories about Jesus? (the Gospels)
Say: The word gospel means good news!
Ask: What are the names of the four books of the Bible that make up the Gospels?
Say: We find our story in the Gospel of Luke. Our two travelers walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, were followers of Jesus. As they walk along, an amazing thing happens – they meet the risen Christ!
Ask: But do they recognize him? Do they “see” him?
Say: Let’s read about this amazing event. Pay attention to how these two people in our story “see.”
Read the Scripture together, verses 13-35.
[In later weeks, ask for volunteers to tell you what happens in the story. Read verses only if needed to fill in details.]
Ask: Did the two travelers recognize Christ when they first saw him? (No)
Why do you suppose they didn’t recognize Jesus? (Accept all answers)
Have you ever heard the expression “I’ll believe it when I see it”?
Say: That is what some of Jesus’ disciples seemed to be saying when the women reported that they had seen Jesus. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Ask: Can actually seeing something help you to “believe” it?
Can you think of some things you’d have to see to believe? (allow a few answers)
Say: I have a piece of paper here with a hole in the middle. (Show paper w/ hole in center.) This hole is exactly the size of a penny. (Show the penny in relation to the hole in the paper).
Ask: Do you think I can fit this quarter coin through this penny-sized hole, without ripping the paper? (Hold the quarter coin up to the penny-sized hole.)
Say: Maybe you have to see it to believe it.
Do: Demonstrate that it is possible! Ask for an assistant to hold the quarter coin for a moment. Fold the paper so that the folded edge goes through the center of the hole. With two hands, hold the top outer corners of the paper so the hole (and fold) is at the bottom edge. Push the corners inward. Ask your assistant to drop the coin into the paper. The coin will easily fall through the hole.
[Note: Why this can happen is because you’ve distorted the hole, but SKIP explaining this. Why this happens isn’t important to our lesson. The point is, did they first see the hole and think that it couldn’t be done?]
Say: This was a case where seeing helped you believe something – that I could fit a large coin through a small hole. But what about our two travelers – they saw Jesus but they didn’t recognize him at first. So seeing wasn’t enough to help them. They needed to not only see, but also to recognize – to realize who was in their presence – that it was the risen Christ!
Say: At this time we’re going to be doing some experiments about our eyes and how they work with our brains to help us see. We will be discovering about how we view objects around us. There are several stations set up for us to take turns visiting. You will have a worksheet to fill out to record your experiences at each station. We will stop and talk about our findings at 10:17.
Science Experiment Stations
- Demonstrate the noise-making device. Students will go to the next station when they hear that noise.
- Ask the Shepherd to help you form groups with two students in each group. For 1st &2 grade: Maximum of 4 groups. For 3rd grade and up: Maximum of 5 groups. Form groups of three if needed.
- Assign each group to a starting station. Distribute worksheets. (They already have access to a pencil or pen.)
- Have groups spend 3 minutes at each station and rotate to the next station on your signal.
- Encourage students to fill out their worksheets.
- Stop the experiment phase with enough time for discussion.
Briefly discuss what students discovered in their course through each station. Points to make:
- Station 1: (Draw a Mirror) The mirror shows a backwards image of the curvy line you drew. It was hard to trace your line because your brain is not used to telling your hand what to do in reverse.
- Station 2: ("Magic Eye” puzzles) This 3-D picture process works because of what’s called “binocular disparity” – our eyes each see a slightly different perspective. This affects the way our brain interprets depth.
- Station 3: (Visual Puzzles) Your comments will vary based on the puzzles chosen.
- Station 4: (Your Blind Spot) We all have a blind spot – a place on your retina that does not have any receptors to light. You noticed your blind spot when the dot or the cross disappeared from view. In the experiment with the line across the card, there wasn’t any break in the line where your blind spot would be. This is because your brain “fills in” the blind spot by using surrounding information – the line.
- Station 5: (Color Wheel) When you spun each top your eyes combined the colors – so a red and yellow disk will look orange, a rainbow colored disk will appear white, and a black and white disk will show various colors. (No one is quite sure why this happens).
- Station 6: (Dot Pictures) Your brain tries to interpret what your eyes are seeing. Your eyes see a bunch of dots but the brain says – but what is that? To help decide, your brain is also using past knowledge.
Say: So let’s apply what we’ve learned about how we see and recognize objects, to what happened to the two travelers on the road to Emmaus.
Ask: Do you suppose that they didn’t recognize Jesus because of their blind spot? (no)
Why do you suppose it was so hard for these followers of Jesus to recognize Jesus? (accept all answers; perhaps distraction, grief, worry, fear)
Say: What if you were on your way to school, and Jesus was suddenly walking with you.
Ask: Would we recognize him?
What can make it difficult to recognize Jesus in your life? (allow all replies)
Do: Share an example from your life of a time when you didn’t recognize – until later – Jesus present in your life.
Say: The two travelers finally recognized Jesus when he broke the bread.
Ask: What does this breaking of bread remind you of? (Communion)
Say: I like the significance of that! At the Last Supper Jesus had told his disciples to remember him when they broke bread! Here, Jesus was giving them another reminder about breaking bread together!
Ask: What was it that Cleopas and his friend realized when they talked over their encounter with Jesus? (how their hearts “burned” when Jesus explained the Bible to them)
Say: Jesus wants us to see him! The Bible can help us to recognize Christ. So if we work at it, if we train our eye, and our mind – because remember your eyes work with your brain – we can get better at “seeing” Jesus!
Ask: How can we practice “seeing” Jesus this week? (read & discuss the Bible, take a walk, notice nature, spend quiet time, break bread with other people, etc.)
Repeat the memory verse.
Say: May your eyes be opened to God’s presence in your life this week
Adaptations - Younger Children
Use a story Bible (showing any pictures as you read) or paraphrase the story.
Forego the use of a worksheet for non-readers.
Have an adult for each group of students to help them at each station.
Reduce the number of stations.
Adaptations - Older Children
Choose the stations that you think will be more challenging to your older students.
Give students supplies to create their own color wheel combinations.
Adaptations for Intergenerational Groups
Have children travel in groups separate from their parent or caregiver. (Allows them a reason to discuss this workshop afterwards at home.)
** For group demonstration-coin “trick” --
- Rice, George F. “Active Humility.” Dr. George’s Science Web. 2001-2010. Web.
- "The Impossible Hole Secret." Puzzles.com. 2001-2007. Web.
[For a video version see here.]
** For Station 1
- Nye, Bill. “For Kids & Teachers - Home Demos: Mirror, Mirror.”
Bill Nye The Science Guy. 2014. Web. (Under "Humans" click on "Mirror, Mirror.")
**For Station 2
- "3-D Viewing Instructions." Magic Eye. 2014. Web.
(Instructions and picture at this site may help younger students to view these pictures)
- “Magic Eye Image of the Week.” Magic Eye. 2014. Web.
Van Wagner Childs, Anne. God's Miracle Eye: Best-loved Bible Stories in 3-D.
- Little Rock, AR: Leisure Arts, 1995. (ISBN 1-57486-000-3)
** For Station 3
- Chudler, Eric H. "Colors, colors." Neuroscience for kids. 1996-2014. Web.
- "Illusions." Puzzles.com. 1995-2013. Web.
- Rice, George F. “Puzzle Power.” Dr. George’s Science Web. 2001-2010. Web.
(use for older students)
- "Visual Puzzles." Puzzles.com. 1995-2013. Web.
** For Station 4
- “Science Snacks: Blind Spot.” The Exploratorium. 2014. Web.
** For Station 5
- Doherty, Paul and Rathjen, Don. The Cheshire Cat and Other Eye-Popping Experiments on How We See the World. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1995. (ISBN 0-471-11516-9)
** For Station 6
- "Jacques Cousteau in Seashells." The Exploratorium. 2014. Web.
What to do if links are dead? Get creative and search!
For links from the Exploratorium go to http://www.exploratorium.edu and search for "Snacks" and then look for a word from the title (for example: "blind spot" for station 4.)
For station 3, search for "stroop test" or "color word test"
If all fails, click on the word Option (found at bottom right of this post) and select "Report Reply" and let us know which link does not work.
(But expect a possible long wait as we are only volunteers!)
Written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
120 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Copyright 2003 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material
If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference: Hulbert, Carol. "The Walk to Emmaus – New Science Lesson." 2003. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>
Thank you, Carol, for such an imaginative and well-crafted workshop!