Hands-on activities give your students a concrete visual of an abstract concept, such as repentance to clean away sins. The LDS church believes repentance is necessary for exaltation. This activity, taught by the LDS church in the Sunday School program, uses food coloring to represent sin and bleach to represent repentance. The experiment should be part of a larger lesson on repentance to give the students some background to better understand the demonstration.
Introduce Sin and Repentance
Before jumping right to the experiment, initiate a discussion on sin and repentance. Depending on the age of the participants, they likely have at least some background on the topic, but a discussion gets everyone thinking about the subject. Discuss how repentance can help cleanse sins and allow sinners to be forgiven. You might provide examples of sins or ask your students to think about their own sins. Then, have the students think about how repentance can help improve spiritual growth.
Now that you have everyone thinking about sin and repentance, introduce the materials for the experiment. Set up the demonstration in a spot where everyone can see what is happening. If students are old enough to handle bleach -- middle school or above -- you can allow small groups of students to do the experiment with you. This gives the students a closer view of what happens. You need a clear container of water, a small container of food coloring and a small container of bleach.
Demonstrate Sin and Repentance
Let the students know that the experiment will demonstrate how sin affects a person and how repentance can cleanse the person. Explain that the container of water represents a person with no sin. Squeeze a few drops of food coloring into the water, explaining that the food coloring represents sin. Watch as the food coloring spreads through the water. You can add more coloring to see how the color darkens and the water gets overtaken by the color. Explain that the bleach represents repentance. Squeeze a few drops of bleach into the water. Stir the water gently to help the bleach clear the food coloring from the water.
Follow Up on Demonstration
Students will see that the bleach has cleared away the food coloring. Relate that back to the sin and repentance discussion. Ask the students how they think the experiment relates to them. Emphasize that repentance helps cleanse the sins, but that repentance involves more than just feeling bad about your sins. Students need to recognize the sin they want to change, confess the sin, give up or forsake the sin, and make restitution for the sin. Examples of restitution include repairing something that was damaged or apologizing if someone was hurt. Ask your students to reflect on their own sins as they work through the steps of repentance.