It’s easy to take awe-inspiring things for granted when we see them all the time. Consider something we do every day: smiling. Each time it happens, it should blow your mind.
Here’s an overview: Neurons in your cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls voluntary muscle movements, send a signal to your face via cranial nerve 7. Twelve muscles respond by working in perfect synchronization to produce a smile.
Imagine how complicated it would be if you had to think through the entire process. “Okay, cerebellum, I’m happy. Find cranial nerve 7 and send the message to operate my Zygomaticus major, Zygomaticus minor, and all the other muscles at exactly the same time. By the way, please be sure to contract them just enough for a nice smile, not enough to make me look like The Joker.”
Thankfully, you don’t have to consider all that. A simple thought flashes through your head, like “I’m about to get my picture taken” or “I want to impress that person” . . . and a smile happens!
- Now that you understand part of the process, does smiling seem kind of impressive? Why or why not? (Some of your students may think it’s pretty cool. Others may be committed to the teen creed of “I don’t care.” Let them answer honestly.)
Here are some other details we take for granted. For example, your body: a person who weighs 155 pounds might look ordinary. But actually, he contains roughly 7 billion billion billion atoms, or 7 followed by 27 zeroes. That means you may contain more atoms than there are stars in the known universe!
Speaking of those stars—from earth we only see a tiny fraction of the stars that are out there. It’s still cool to look up when you consider that each pinpoint of light is a gigantic burning ball of gas that’s trillions of miles away!
And here’s another amazing fact: in the known universe, scientists estimate there may be as many as 300 sextillion stars. Let’s put that another way. If every star was the size of a grain of sand, and you divided those stars equally among all the people on earth, every human being would get 5,000 cups full of stars!
- How do you feel when you think about very small things, like the atoms in our body, and very large things like the universe? (Many of your students will probably feel some sense of amazement.)
It’s easy to take things like smiling, or your body, or the stars in the sky for granted. But when we look deeper, ordinary things become amazing! Let’s watch a short video that helps us understand a little more about very large things like the universe, and very small things like atoms.
Show your students the following video [4:35].
Cosmic Eye (Remastered Version)
- What was the most incredible part of this video to you? (Accept all reasonable answers.)
There’s no doubt that our universe is an awe-inspiring place! Today, we’re going to study the awesome God who made it all. He created the 7 billion billion billion atoms inside of you and the 300 sextillion stars in the known universe. Let’s check it out…
Does It Take Fewer Muscles to Smile than It Does to Frown?
How Many Atoms Are in the Human Body?
How Many Atoms Are There in the Universe?
How Many Grains of Sand Are There in a Cup of Sand?