A Little Magic

I like to do science experiments in religion class from time to time! They make for good attention-grabbers.

Tonight, our focus is going to be on the nearness of God and our textbook emphasizes the fact that, since the Enlightenment, advances in science have led many people to conclude that God is not actively involved in creation. The textbook goes on to show that science helps us to understand how God’s creation works while Scripture helps us to understand the intimate relationship God has with all of creation.

So here’s my science experiment. It requires a 12 oz. can of pop, a clear drinking glass, a third of a cup of sugar, and a shallow tray.

  1. Pour the can of pop into the clear drinking glass (which should be standing in the shallow tray)
  2. Draw attention to the bubbling/fizzing.
  3. Next, tell the students that you can magically make all of the bubbles disappear!
  4. Pour the sugar into the glass
  5. It will foam up and over the rim of the glass causing spillage (thus the need for the shallow tray)
  6. When it settles down, the pop will no longer bubble/fizz…it will be “flat”
  7. Ask if anyone knows why.
  8. Before giving the scientific explanation, tell the students that, years ago, when someone claimed magical powers, audiences believed those powers were either divine or demonic. Emphasize that, before science was able to explain all of the things that it can explain today, people attributed all things to either God or some evil spirit(s). Since the Enlightenment (the late 1700’s), science has been able to explain many things. As a result, many people have concluded that God is now irrelevant. Others condemn science and cling to explanations from the Bible as being scientifically accurate (fundamentalists, creationists). The Catholic Church teaches us that science and religion are not at odds with one another and that God is intimately involved with all of creation, especially us human beings who are made in God’s image and likeness.
  9. Give the scientific explanation of what caused the bubbles/fizzing to disappear: the bubbling/fizzing is caused by the gradual releae of carbon dioxide. Sugar acts as a catalyst, speeding up the release of carbon dioxide in the soft drink. When it is all released, the pop becomes flat (explain that the same thing will happen if pop is left out for a long period of time)
  10. Conclude by telling the students that science helps us to understand how God’s creation works and that the Bible helps us to understand how God is intimately invovled in all of creation.

I’ll be using this as a springboard for reflective prayer later in the class when we’ll meditate on Psalm 139 which reflects on the nearness of God.

Just this weekend, when the pope was ordaining some new bishops, he spoke of the nearness of God “who is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.”

About Joe Paprocki 2703 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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