Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 15:30:33 -0800
Reply-To: Sheila Kennedy <smk**At_Symbol_Here**CHEM.UCSD.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Sheila Kennedy <smk**At_Symbol_Here**CHEM.UCSD.EDU>
Subject: undergraduate lab safety - blue sky ideas
Comments: To: LABSAFETY-L Discussion List ,
"Wong, Brenda" , Justin Turner ,
Ken Jacoby , "Snow, Richard" ,
Spring Straum ,
Doug Harvey ,
"Ian J. Ball" ,
DaFei Feng ,
Haim Weizman ,
Sergio Guazzotti ,
Robert Ternansky ,
Chris White ,
Robert Continetti , theinl**At_Symbol_Here**
Comments: cc: "Palmer, John" ,
Barbara Sawrey ,
Suzanne Anderson ,
Peter Wotruba ,
Marijana Vukovic ,
Vilma Chua ,
Carmen Susana Jones ,
"Stephen A. Smith" ,
Thomas Butler , Rebecca Hwa

Apologies up front to those who read receive this by more than one route. 

I'm working on an idea to expand our undergraduate chem lab safety 
training and, as always, I'd appreciate any ideas - particularly of 
those who might consider employing our students in the future. Nothing 
is happening with this immediately, so blue-sky  thinking is encouraged. 
Please circulate the query to anyone you think may have good suggestions.

We've been working on the assumption that different people learn 
differently - no news to anyone who teaches. Our lab safety materials 
and lab rules are available in a variety of formats: a student can 
attend a lecture, read a study guide with practice test questions, or 
contact the lab staff for information, clarification, etc., but it's all 
very much centered on reading. One route we haven't pursued is a 
hands-on set-up for those who learn by doing (or at least by seeing 
things done first hand). (Please don't tell me these are University 
students and they're supposed to be able to learn by reading - that's 
another argument.)

I'm imagining a lab set up with various areas, using common lab 
equipment:  a balance area, a gc operating area, a distillation set-up, 
a titration set-up, a dispensing area with materials in various forms, a 
hazardous waste collection area . . . . Each station would be designed 
to illustrate a correct procedure, while giving the teacher a chance to 
point out pitfalls and false assumptions ("your might think it would be 
easier to . . . ., but we've learned that it doesn't work well because. 
. . .) In some of my imaginings, this is a bingo-type game, where the 
student needs to find a certain pattern of items to fill out a card . . 
. (possibly to get a small prize??) 

I do realize that in the best situation, each TA in each lab would be 
doing something like this, but it isn't happening. If we can do 
something like this, it might be an inspiration to some of our TAs.

Have you done something like this? Will you share your experience?
What lab situations would be most valuable?
What pitfall should we particularly highlight?
What positive aspects of lab practice should be strongly emphasized?
Is it worth the additional time involved to make it a game, rather than 
a demonstration?
Teachers: How much time can students spend at something like this before 
their eyes glaze over?
Teachers: What are the other pitfalls of this kind of teaching/presentation?

Many thanks to you all, Sheila

Sheila M. Kennedy
Safety Coordinator
Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr. #0303
La Jolla, CA  92093-0303
(858) 534-0221 

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