The Science Demonstration – A Custom Pendulum
For this particular science demonstration, I built a simple pendulum using a ladder, steel cable and some supplies I had hanging around the office. As you can see from the video, I attached a 2×4 to the top of the ladder extending out to the side of the ladder. This allowed me to attach the cable to an eye hook. On the other end of the cable I connected a bucket with a few pounds of sand in it. This allows you to swing the bucket back and forth as a custom made pendulum. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done.
The rule of the pendulum is that it will swing back and forth because of the gravitational pull. Once you pull the weight out to the side and let go, gravity pulls it down until it is hanging vertically from the cable. The momentum will then carry the weight to other side of the pendulum until the force of gravity slows it down and pulls it back the other direction once again. If things like friction and wind resistance did not exist, a well made pendulum would swing perpetually without stopping because of the constant force of gravity. In the real world, however, friction and air resistance steal some of the energy from the pendulum. This means that no matter how high you pull the weight to begin with, once you let it go, it will never swing that high again. Each swing will be slightly lower than the one before it.
After demonstrating this principle, I invited a volunteer up to the stage so we could put the law of the pendulum to the test. The volunteer pulls the weight up to their nose, lets go of the pendulum, and stands there waiting on the weight to swing back. In this moment, their actions will let you know if they really believe in the law of the pendulum. More than likely, their fear of being hit in the face will trump their belief in the laws of physics, and they’ll flinch out of the way.
Bible Lesson – Faith or Fear
Fear is the enemy of faith. Faith calls us to live generously and trust that God will provide. Fear tells us the future might not be kind, so we have to selfishly store up wealth for ourselves. Faith tells us that we are loved and precious in God’s sight. Fear worries that no one likes us and causes us to compromise our morals in order to fit in. Faith calls us to take the gospel to those who don’t know Jesus. Fear of rejection helps us remain silent.
The best place to see the interplay between faith and fear is in the story of Peter walking on the water. You can read the entire text in Mathew 14:22-33. Peter is called out on the water by Jesus, and the scripture tells us that for at least a few steps, Peter walked on the water just like Jesus. After a few steps, however, he began to look at the waves and wind, and fear chased away his faith. When this happened, he began to sink. He believed in Jesus, but he was more afraid of the waves.
This battle between our faith and fear is something we face on a daily basis. Do we really trust Jesus with everything? Do we trust in him to provide for our future? Do we trust him to protect us when we take risks on his behalf? When the rubber meets the road, do we trust him more than our fears?
Scriptures to Study and Use
The Bible talks a lot about fear and the repeated command to not be afraid. Many of these passages are connected to the presence of God and our trust in him.
Strong and Courageous – Joshua 1:7-9
Joshua is repeatedly told to be strong and courageous. This courage will not be founded on his own strength, but on the presence of God who will “be with him wherever he goes.”
You are Mine – Isaiah 43:1-7
In a passage that points to the restoration of Israel, God commands his people not to fear for he will be with them as they face hardship and struggles.
Don’t Be Afraid – Luke 1-2 – CHRISTMAS LESSON
The first two chapters of Luke contain the repeated command to not be afraid. God is coming to be with his people, so neither Mary, nor Zechariah, nor the shepherds have anything to fear.