We began by talking about what it meant to "experiment upon the word". Most of the girls were at least a little bit familiar with the scientific method (question, research, hypothesis, experiment, analyze data, and share results) from science classes at school so they were able to apply that knowledge to the gospel. I was really proud of some of their insights. We read Alma 32:27 together and I told them about my personal "experiment" recently to see if being more diligent about reading the scriptures daily would make me feel happier. One of the girls shared that she had also been doing the same experiment and shared her results. I explained that experimenting was Heavenly Father's way for us to find things out for ourselves and strengthen our testimonies.
Before the activity I made journals for each of the girls so they could record the results of our experiments that evening, as well as their future experiments. With Back-to-School sales, I got cute pink composition books for less than 25 cents a piece and glued some printables I designed onto the cover and inside. The printables can be downloaded for personal use here. I wasn't sure if the girls would really want to take the time to fill out the journal page, but THEY DID!! It was adorable. I would be ready to move onto the next experiment and they would say, "Wait one more minute Sister G. I'm not done writing my analysis yet!" I loved it!!
As we did each experiment I explained why it worked the way it did, scientifically, and then had the girls come up with ideas about how we could apply those our results to our spiritual lives. They were really good at making connections and sharing insights.
Experiment 1The first "experiment" (they were really demonstrations, but the girls loved it) was to see if they could blow up balloons without using their mouths. (Get the deets here) Before the activity I filled an empty water bottle for each girl with about 3/4 C. of white vinegar. Then, using a funnel, I put about 1 Tablespoon of baking soda into a balloon and carefully attached it to the top of the water bottle without pouring the baking soda into the bottle (as shown above). When the girls had all written their hypotheses, we lifted our balloons, releasing the baking soda into the vinegar. It was fun to watch the girls' faces as their balloons inflated.
We compared the balloon to our testimonies and I had the girls name two things they could "mix" that would cause their testimonies to grow. They came up with fasting and prayer, reading the scriptures and keeping the commandments, going to church and serving others, among other ideas.
Our second experiment was to see what would happen if we heated a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave. (Get the deets here) Most of the girls predicted it would melt and become liquid. One girl thought it might catch on fire. No one was prepared for this cool result:
The soap inflated and looked like a cloud. As we analyzed our results, the girls decided that the soap was like our spirits and the heat was like the Holy Ghost. With the help of the Holy Ghost we can be "bigger" than we are really are and do more good. We also compared the heat to trials and temptations in life, like peer pressure, and the air inside the soap was like our spirit inside our bodies. If we learn to rely on our Heavenly Father, as the "heat" rises in our lives our spirits become stronger than our "natural man" and we "rise" to meet the challenges and overcome them.
Next we did the notorious Mentos and Diet Soda experiment. (Get the deets here) The girls had all seen this one before, but some of them hadn't actually done it themselves. It's just plain fun to watch stuff explode!! After this experiment we talked about how the Mentos had tiny pits all over the surface of the candy that were perfect places for the bubbles to form, causing the bubbles to form so fast it exploded out of the bottle. We talked about what things we could add in our lives that would cause an explosion of the spirit. One girl compared the Mentos to the scriptures and said, "there are so many great things in the scriptures that excite our spirits and when we read them our spirit will bubble over with happiness". I love that!!
Experiment 4I saved the Slime experiment for last because I knew it would be impossible to get the girls to move on once we had made it. (Get the deets here) This was BY FAR the best experiment of the night. I asked the girls if you could mix two liquids and make a solid without heating or cooling them. They had no idea what to expect so most of their hypotheses were just a big question mark.
Before the activity I had mixed the Borax with water and poured it into these small test tubes I found on Amazon. They held the perfect amount of "secret chemical" to turn 1/2 bottle of glue (4 oz.) and an equal amount of water into slime. We mixed the glue, water, and 1-2 drops of food coloring in the small treat cups with a popsicle stick. Then I had the girls pour the test tube into the cup and stir. The squeals and giggles as they watched it turn into slime were my reward for all the prep work. It takes a few minutes of stirring for all the liquid to be absorbed into the slime. The girls got impatient and used their finger to knead the slime once it started forming.
We compared this experiment to they way our families are linked (like the chains of molecules) when we are sealed in the temple, making it easier for the Lord to form and shape us into the families He needs us to be. We also talked about how living the gospel makes us more flexible and able to deal with life's challenges without getting bent out of shape.
To close the activity, I explained that the girls should continue to use their journals. If they have questions, such as "Why should I pay tithing?" or "Why do I need to dress modestly?", they can record the question in their journal, do some research in the scriptures, figure out what experiment they could do to find out for themselves, and then record and analyze their results. It was a really fun meeting that I think left everyone feeling excited about strengthening our own testimonies. At the very least, we all had a really good time together, which is just as important!
If you do this activity with your group, I would love to hear about how it goes!!