Tapestry of Faith: Miracles : A Multigenerational Program on Living in Awe and Wonder
Main Content

Activity 4: It’s in the Air! Preparing to See Priestley’s Experiments

Part of Miracles

Activity time: 3 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Large note cards and markers (for Station Model)
  • Trays for experiment materials

Preparation for Activity

  • Review experiments (Activities 5, 6, and 7).
  • Decide whether you will use the Station Model or have the whole group do the experiments together, in sequence.
  • Prepare experiments.

Description of Activity

In Activities 5 through 7, participants explore Joseph Priestley’s discoveries through scientific experiments inspired by his work.

There are two ways to structure the experience:

1. The Station Model. The three experiments can be done concurrently as three science stations around the room. This set-up will work particularly well for wide age span groupings.

2. Alternatively, the activities can be done in sequence with the whole group engaging together in one, two, or three of the experiments.

The Station Model

  • If you choose the Station Model, have enough material for all participants to have hands-on experiences and have adult supervision at every station.
  •  If you are using three stations, divide participants into three groups. At least one adult is needed in each group, as Activity 7 requires lit matches and flames.
  • Assign one group to each of the three stations. Allow about five minutes at each station, then direct groups to put the materials they have used back on their tray before rotating to the next station.
  • Provide printed directions for conducting the experiment at each station.

Introduce the activities by explaining that participants will now have a chance to try out some of Priestley’s experiments. You might remind them that his process was a combination of trying things out, paying close attention, reflecting on observations, and experiencing some serendipity. Priestley discovered carbon dioxide, invented the process to create carbonated beverages such as soda, and identified the process of plant photosynthesis. Priestley did all this by watching inquisitively; he noticed the transformation and tried to identify causation. Invite participants to do the same as they replicate some of Priestley’s processes.