Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 14:39:29 -0800
Reply-To: Debbie Decker <dmdecker**At_Symbol_Here**UCDAVIS.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Debbie Decker <dmdecker**At_Symbol_Here**UCDAVIS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Comments in "In Our Time" Newsletter
In-Reply-To: <E9BFF65E-DE15-41EE-B7CE-31257A3AC7AD**At_Symbol_Here**>

Since I'm currently in a snarl with my local school district over the dismal
state of science funding at the high school, this seems timely.  Chemistry
is best learned experientially and that can be done safely at the high
school level with things that won't hurt if they get out of hand.  But when
there's no money provided for consumables, the lab experience goes away and
kids end up learning chemistry from a book (exceedingly boring, frankly),
not at the end of their fingers.

Besides getting the Superintendent all stirred up and wreaking havoc with
the school board, which hasn't resulted in a single extra dime so far, any
other ideas for helping?  Anyone else been successful at increasing funding
for science?

Thanks for your input,
Debbie Decker
EH&S UCDavis
FAX (530)752-4527
Co-Conspirator to Make the World A 
Better Place -- Visit and join the conspiracy

Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction 
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions, 
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of
Ralph Stuart
Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 8:10 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Comments in "In Our Time" Newsletter

I was startled to find the following comments in promo e-mail I  
received for a BBC podcast I listen to regularly. The topic of the  
podcast ("In Our Time") was asteroids and comets, so this seemed a  
rather spurious tangent from the subject. I wonder how the Division  
membership reacts to it?

My memory of freshman chemistry is that sniffing the fumes from the  
bubbling sulphuric acid over the bunsen burner was that an experience  
led to me resolving to avoid chemistry classes in the future...

- Ralph

From: melvyn-bragg**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject:  Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time Newsletter - 03/11/2005
Date:  November 3, 2005 3:21:25 PM EST

Further back on the education chain, though, the worry is that young  
people are not being attracted to chemistry because of the draconian  
application of Health and Safety rules.  The sort of experiments that  
we did in labs with Bunsen burners and mixing things and hoping for  
bangs and liking to see fermentation and bubbling and grizzling, has  
now been banned.  A teacher stands behind a glass screen and  
demonstrates.  In other words, all the three of them agreed, it seems  
to be no fun at all for students who are peeling away from chemistry  
en masse.  The worry is not only that fewer students are taking up  
chemistry, but that even those who are taking it up cannot be hands  
on and, therefore, cannot begin to be innovative at the start of  
their careers.  There was worry that this would lead to a drop off of  
real interest in pushing chemistry forward into areas where it is now  
so important, to do with research into fuels into the atmosphere and  
so on.

It seems that, again and again, when we bandage people against  
reality we save some things but seem to lose at least as much and  
perhaps far more important things.  As this country has been so  
fantastically effective in its studies of chemistry over the past two  
centuries, it would be a pity if over-fierce regulation were to crush  
the life out of it, which seems to be the case.

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