----- Original Message -----From: Norwood, BradSent: Saturday, October 09, 2010 8:00 AMSubject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Science Education & Safety
While I agree (mainly) in principle with Ernest, there are some things that really should come off of the list. An obvious example (and I=92m being extreme here, not intending to imply Ernest wouldn=92t agree) is benzene. I=92m sure we=92d all agree that this is a solvent that simply should not be used under any circumstances.
But Ernest=92s point is spot-on. If all we do is =91dumb down=92 the content of labs and remove all possible hint of danger, we exacerbate the problem of a society full of chemophobic individuals who simply do not know how to handle any chemical, much less make a rational decision as to whether a given situation is really a problem or not. Heck, if this is going to be our response (i.e. let=92s remove all danger from the lab), we might as well discontinue =91real=92 labs and just do the whole thing as an online & virtual experience. Take a video of the experiment and let the kiddies watch it.
I think we do our students (and, ultimately, society itself) a disservice when we immediately presume that we must be the nanny-protector from all harm. The real world does not operate this way (ambulance-chasing, TV ad-trolling trial lawyers notwithstanding). Far better to teach them what the real issues are and how to think critically through a situation to assess it, and to actually perform, hands-on, real chemical reactions with real chemicals and reagents - some of which can harm them - to demonstrate that, with proper handling, care and understanding, chemicals can and do perform wonderful things for us.
I=92ll get off my soapbox now.
Dr. Bradley K. Norwood
1941 Reymet Road
Richmond, VA 23237
(804) 271-5572 ext. 307
(804) 641-4641 (cell)
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From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**list.uvm.edu] On Behalf Of Ernest Lippert
Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 11:51 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Science Education & Safety
I guess I am "Old School" but it is hardly possible to teach (or practice) chemistry without some exposure to more or less dangerous chemicals. What needs to be taught is how to handle chemicals safely, not how to handle only safe chemicals. We must be careful not to occupationally regulate ourselves out of existence.
On Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM, Russell Vernon <russell.vernon**At_Symbol_Here**ucr.edu> wrote:
I found out today that one of our teaching labs is conducted an extraction experiment with dichloromethane (caffeine from coffee)
I would like to provide them a reasonable alternative extraction experiment with an occupationally regulated carcinogen=85
If you have a recommendation to look at, would you please contact me?
Russell Vernon, Ph.D.
Environmental Health & Safety
University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave
Riverside, CA 92521
Direct (951) 827-5119
Admin (951) 827-5528
Fax (951) 827-5122
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