Suggestion for collective worship in a primary school

(Teachers might like to have the word ANAESTHETIC and the name JOSEPH PRIESTLEY written up on a board or flipchart) How do we see our way when we go out at night? We have street lamps. Cars and buses have headlamps so that, even where there are no street lamps, the drivers can see where they are going. But how did people see in the days before gas light or electric light? And in the days before cars and trains and buses? They could carry lanterns lit by candles. But it would still be very dark - unless it was a clear night with the moon shining.

When the moon is full, the night can be really quite light.

In the eighteenth century, more than two hundred years ago, a group of men who were all interested in science, used to meet together once a month on Monday evenings, but always a close as possible to the night of the full moon so that they could see their way more clearly.

They called their group the Lunar Society because Lunar means 'to do with the moon'.

Among them was a clergyman, a minister, called Joseph Priestley. He was a scientist as well as a minister.

He loved to do scientific experiments.

Scientists were discovering all kinds of things. Joseph Priestley made some important discoveries. He found out how to make a new gas. It is called nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide is important because it can stop people feeling pain. It is an anaesthetic. It is still used by dentists.

Joseph Priestley also discovered how to make fizzy drinks - 'pop'. I wonder which you think was the more important discovery?

What was important to Priestley was that he was establishing scientific truths - he was finding out more about the world that God had made.

We have reason to be grateful to him.

Find out more about the Birmingham Lunar Society

Find out more about Nitrous Oxide

Return to Priestley index page