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Louis Pasteur

To celebrate the life of a famous scientist, and to understand how important it is to use our talents wisely.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To celebrate the life of a famous scientist, and acknowledge the profound effect of his work on the way we live. To understand how important it is to do all we can with our talents and to use them wisely.

Preparation and materials

  • Choose the performers and rehearse the script with them in advance.
  • Characters:
    Narrator (M/F)
    Father (M)
    Louis (M)
    Teacher (M/F)
    Dumas (M)
    Marie (F)
    Vintner 1 (M/F)
    Vintner 2 (M/F)
  • (optional) OHT picture of Louis Pasteur.
  • Flip-chart and pens.
  • There are suggestions for the use of drama in assemblies in our resources section.


  1. Welcome the children and introduce the theme of the assembly: famous inventions. Ask the children if they can think of any inventions and list them on the flip-chart. If you can, guide the children towards mentioning pasteurization or vaccinations, and write them in a different colour. If not, tell the children about these inventions and write them on the flip-chart.

    Ask the children if they have any idea who invented vaccinations and pasteurization. Mention that there is a big clue in the second invention.

  2. Introduce the characters and the play.

    Narrator: Louis' father had a clear idea of what his son should do with his life.

    Father: Son, you should go to college and become a teacher.

    Narrator: Louis thought about this. He liked the idea of being a teacher but for some reason he didn't think that this was where his talents lay.

    Louis: Maybe, Father, but I think I would like to have a go at being a scientist.

    Narrator: At first, Louis was just an average pupil at school. He liked art, and painted many pictures of his friends and family. But as he got older, his teachers started to notice Louis was a bit different.

    Teacher: There's something special about you, Louis, I can feel it in my bones.

    Narrator: His teacher advised Louis to go to study in Paris, where he would realize his potential.

    A few years later, Louis followed his teacher's advice and went to Paris. He met a very famous chemist called Professor Dumas. Professor Dumas taught Louis everything he knew. They worked very hard together and soon Louis became a recognized scientist.

    Dumas: Congratulations, Louis! You have won the gold medal for your work on crystals.
    Narrator: This was to be the first of many discoveries that Louis achieved throughout his career.

    In 1849 Louis Pasteur married Marie Laurent. She was a kind and patient woman, who understood her husband's dedication to his research.

    Marie: It's late, so I'm off to bed, dear, don't work too hard. Narrator: Louis would often study late into the night and often on Sundays as well.

    Louis: I want to make a discovery that will change the world as we know it. I must work every hour that God sends.

    Narrator: Louis filled his notebooks with his experiments.

    Louis: Great discoveries don't just happen by chance. Hard work is just as important.

    Narrator: About this time the French wine industry was in ruins. The wine was going sour and nobody knew why. The winemakers and sellers lost lots of money - and they were frightened of losing their jobs. They turned to Louis for his help.

    Vintner 1: Yech! This is disgusting.

    Vintner 2: Don't worry! Pasteur is on the case!

    Narrator: After many nights of experiments, Louis found that the yeast that was used to make wine was making people ill, and he discovered a way of making the wine safe to drink.

    Louis: You have to heat up the wine, and that will kill the harmful yeast.

    Narrator: The process of heating liquids to make them safe from bacteria (germs) became widespread. It was called pasteurization - after Louis Pasteur. The most important development that came from this was the pasteurization of milk. Young children would now drink pasteurized milk, which was free from bacteria, and this would keep them much healthier.

    When Louis Pasteur was 35 years old he was appointed as director of a very important school in Paris. Here he built some wonderful laboratories, with the best equipment. At the time in France people suffered from diseases like cholera and typhoid. Scientists didn't understand how the diseases were spread. They did not know that germs lived in the air.

    Louis Pasteur's daughter died from typhoid fever. This made him even more determined to find the cause and a cure. After much hard work, Louis made a very important discovery:

    Louis: Tiny germs live in the air. Diseases are caused by tiny germs.

    Narrator: At the age of 45 Louis Pasteur suffered a stroke. He became paralysed in his left arm and his left leg. He was, however, determined to carry on with his work.

    Louis: I must find a way to stop diseases spreading.

    Narrator: A sickness called anthrax killed thousands of sheep and cattle every year all over Europe. In his observations Louis noticed something interesting.

    Louis: The sheep that manage to survive anthrax don't catch it again. They seem to become immune to the disease.

    Narrator: Louis injected a flock of sheep with a weak solution of anthrax. Then he put them into a field with other sheep already infected with anthrax.

    Louis: Wonderful! The injected sheep have survived, while the others have all died.

    Narrator: This process became known as vaccination - giving a weak dose of the disease as protection against the full-blown version. Louis Pasteur's most famous invention was a vaccine against rabies.

    Louis Pasteur died in 1895 but his discoveries live on. We still drink pasteurized milk and we have all been vaccinated to prevent diseases.

  3. Discuss the significance of the Louis Pasteur's work. What would life be like without his discoveries and inventions?

    We can't all make such important discoveries as Louis Pasteur, but we should always try our hardest with the talents that we have - we never know what they might lead to. Remember that Louis Pasteur was once just an ordinary schoolboy, who liked art best, and he became one of the world's greatest scientists.

Time for reflection

God of discoveries,
Thank you for the life and work of Louis Pasteur.
Thank you that we are safe from many diseases because of his work
and because he saw things in a way that no one had ever seen them before.
Please help us all to reach our potential -
and maybe even to see things in a new way ourselves.


'If I had a hammer' (Come and Praise, 71)

Publication date: October 2002   (Vol.4 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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