Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005 17:53:05 EST
Reply-To: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM
Subject: Re: Class demo - whoa!
Comments: To: dakatz45**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM
Re: "fire and smoke" demonstrations.

Large numbers of kids now have asthma and other respiratory problems.  Kids
with serious disabilities must be accommodated in school classrooms.  Smoke and
other air pollutants in the classroom put such students at risk.

Last year I did expert witness in a lawsuit in which a woman with asthma died
after an unannounced pyrotechnic display was done in a rodeo arena in Tulsa.

As a theatrical union rep, I also deal with ruined lives and careers of
theatrical performers and pit musicians that develop adult onset asthma and other
respiratory problems from theatrical pyrotechnics, and chemical smoke and fog
effects.  Most theatrical smoke and fog effects aren't even true "smoke."
They are oil mists or glycol mists.

Unless the emissions from an experiment can be controlled and drawn away from
the students, it is just plain a bad idea.  Sooner or later, someone will
have a serious reaction to the smoke.  Its an accident you can expect to happen
sooner or later.

Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A.,
industrial hygienist
Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer,
United Scenic Artist's, Local 829
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (IATSE)
181 Thompson St., #23
New York NY 10012-2586     212/777-0062

In a message dated 2/1/05 11:51:21 AM Eastern Standard Time, dakatz45**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM
> The incident with the thermite reaction occurred when a college professor
> thought that it would "look cool" to replace the bucket of sand with a large
> beaker of water so students could see the molten iron under water.    A number
> of youngsters were hurt.  In his book Tested Demonstrations in Chemistry,
> Hubert Alyea shows a thermit reaction using a beaker partially filled with
> sand,  a tin pan on top of the sand and then the beaker is filled with water.
> (Demo no. 7-3)  The thermite mixture, only a few grams, is placed in a crucible.
>  As I recall, that professor used a 4-inch flower pot of thermite and
> completely disregarded the kinetics of that quantity of material.
> In defense of the thermite reaction, I do that reaction every semester with
> my class when I discuss chemical reactions.  We go outside, onto a concrete
> patio, everyone is a minimum of 10 yards away, and a bucket of sand is used to
> catch the molten iron.  I explain how I grew up in Philadelphia and how I
> watched repair crews fix cracks in the trolley tracks using this reaction.  It
> was also used to weld track together when building the railroads. I never use
> the thermite reaction when visiting classrooms or entertaining the general
> public.
> As a chemistry teacher, I have been doing chemistry demonstrations for over
> 35 years to audiences from pre-school through professional scientists. I do
> at least one demonstration in every class I teach, often more.  During my
> career, I have done my share of fire and smoke demonstrations, but always with a
> point, and always in context with a specific topic or goal, and always with
> an eye on safety.  Fire, smoke and explosions are not appropriate for school
> visitations or public demonstrations.  I'm proud of a 100% safety record.
> We became chemists because we think chemistry is a fascinating and exciting
> science.  Who needs magic when we can demonstrate how a glowing splint bursts
> into flame in an enriched oxygen atmosphere and is then extinguished in a
> beaker of carbon dioxide - that's better than magic!  I 1981 pioneered my
> Chemistry in the Toy Store demos and brought some safe and fun science using toys
> and common materials into many classrooms around the world.
> Right now, I'm preaching to the choir, but I preach to the masses whenever I
> get a chance.  Unfortunately, when I approach the purveyors of fire, smoke
> and explosions and point out that their presentations are inappropriate and
> offer safe alternatives, my message falls on deaf ears.
> Be vigilant in your community and discourage the fire, smoke, and explosions
> in your schools.
> David Katz
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------------------------------
> Chemist, Educator, Expert Demonstrator, Science Communicator, and Consultant
> 133 N. Desert Stream Dr., Tucson, AZ 85745, U.S.A.
> Voice/Fax/Message: 520-624-2207     Email: dakatz45**At_Symbol_Here**<
> mailto:dakatz45**At_Symbol_Here**>
> Programs and workshops for teachers, schools, museums, and the public
> Visit my web site:
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------------------------------

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