CAN YOU MAKE IT RAIN?
the Revd Alan M. Barker
As with all rapid response assemblies, you will need to update this assembly prior to use.
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To appreciate the necessity and wonder of rain.
Preparation and resources
You will need a well chilled bottle of sparkling water, a clear glass, a drinking straw, a small quantity of salt or sugar and a tray to contain any spillages.
- A group could prepare a ‘rain dance’ to perform as part of this assembly.
- An acetate to display the verse from Psalm 104.
- A recording of Chopin’s ‘Raindrop prelude’ or other appropriate music.
Begin the assembly by listening to Chopin’s ‘Raindrop prelude’. Relate the music to the weather. If meteorological records are kept, invite children to give a summary of recent rainfall measurements. If this is not possible, can anyone remember when it last rained? Discuss the effects of low rainfall and the problems of moor and woodland fires.
- Reflect that, while rainfall is sometimes disruptive (invite the children to consider in what way), it is also essential. Remind the school community that successful agriculture depends upon adequate rainfall. Low spring rainfall in parts of the UK (April/May 2011) has affected the germination and growth of crops. Reflect that this may cause considerable financial loss and difficulty but will not be life-threatening. However, when rains fail in some tropical areas, starvation and social displacement can result.
- Explain that ‘rain dances’ are part of the tradition and culture of some societies living in areas at risk from lack of rain, or ‘drought’. The children could perform a rain dance. Such traditions celebrate the vital importance of the onset of rain.
- Pose the question: ‘Can you make it rain?’ State that whenever the children pour a fizzy drink, they can see the fascinating way in which rain is formed. Pour the chilled sparking water into the glass and, when the contents of the glass have settled down, invite the children to observe how the bubbles form. Instead of appearing at random, they stream from tiny cracks and rough places on the side of the glass, or from the sides of the straw. Scientists call these places ‘nucleation sites’. Something similar happens in clouds. Invite everyone to imagine that the drink is moist air and that the bubbles are, in fact, raindrops. Raindrops are formed when water vapour ‘condenses’, i.e. turns into a liquid droplet by ‘grabbing hold’ of a speck of dust in the atmosphere.
- Explain that this is the basis of experiments in ‘cloud seeding’. Scientists have tried to make rain by releasing millions of tiny particles from aircraft flying high in the atmosphere. Substances as simple as common salt have been used. It’s not easy to make it rain, but it is possible. Refer back to the question: ‘Can you make it rain?’ Invite someone to sprinkle a pinch of salt into the fizzy drink to imitate cloud seeding. It will produce a short burst of bubbles!
- Conclude that, while we may sometimes regard rain as a nuisance, those who experience little rainfall know how precious (and fascinating) it is. Display a verse from the Old Testament: ‘You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills’ (Psalm 104.10).
Time for reflection
Voice 1: It’s going to rain!
Voice 2: Look at the clouds.
Voice 3: Creator God,
we thank you
for gathering clouds,
and steady rain.
Voices 1 and 2 in quick succession: Splish! Splash!
Prayers might be offered for those affected by drought.
‘Water of life’ (Come and Praise, 2)