From: "Koster, Sandra" <skoster**At_Symbol_Here**UWLAX.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Grade school demonstration stupidity
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:31:22 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CAD4T1-VcL--CgSgnZp7zuhLK=BmSq1yOaD2h=VW6yzNR56rV=g**At_Symbol_Here**

The pdf on the Flinn site has good safety precautions. Like putting the "snake" on the bench and lighting it from a distance with a candle on a meter stick (after turning off the gas) rather than lighting it out of your hand. Since so many people just follow the pictures and don't read, you really might need to include those precautions in the video itself. Smaller rooms, low ceilings and mediocre air exchange could lead to some bad results. Worst case scenario might be reaching the explosive limit of methane in air. If the column is fairly high the bubbles could lean too close to the person's face as they are lit. I really think this is a demo that should not be taken on the road. Do it in a large lecture hall (at a college or university most likely) with high ceilings and good ventilation and no volunteers from the audience. And don't keep the gas on for such a long time. Make your column, turn off the gas and talk. Take off and discard the column of bubbles, make a new column, turn off the gas and carry the column over to the bench for lighting. And not too tall a column lest it bend over toward you, especially if you just must light it from your hand. The whole "look at the video and try to replicate without knowing the potential problems" thing is a common phenomenon in our YouTube culture.

Sandra Koster
Senior Lecturer
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

On Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 12:48 PM, Irene Cesa <icesa**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

A publication with procedure and safety precautions accompanies the video on the Flinn website and can be directly accessed by clicking on the pdf icon at the following link.

Irene Cesa

Irene G. Cesa, Ph.D.

Technical Consultant

Flinn Scientific, Inc.



From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Teresa Arnold
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 12:20 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Grade school demonstration stupidity

I emailed Byram Hills to express my concern and one of their folks called me today. They are very concerned with safety and and want to make improvements. It was nice that they were in no way making excuses. They honestly want help with making things better. They are looking for suggestions for training programs in the area, so if you have suggestions, let me know and I will pass them on. They are in NY.

Apparently, they were doing the "Methane Mamba" from this Flinn demo video:

Note that the demonstrator DOES light it off in his hand.

Thoughts? Examples of where this went wrong in the past that I can cite for Byram Hills?


On Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 11:35 AM, ILPI Support <info**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

Came across this today:

Yes, that is a high school teacher doing a science outreach demo in which a fifth grader is holding flames in his hand.

The sound you hear is me banging my head on the table repeatedly.

My best guess is that it's the "methane mamba" demonstration which you can find on YouTube. Which, I suppose, if done carefully and away from all flammables could be relatively low-risk, but to have a FIFTH GRADER hold it while it is lit not only presents a serious safety issue, but a far greater one - teaching elementary school kids that you can safely play with fire in your hands. In my personal opinion, this is professionally derelict. I hate demos like this because I fear/know that some student will try to recreate it using household materials like alcohol or gasoline.

Of course, most all of us thought at one time the methanol rainbow and similar demonstrations were relative low risk - and the accidents we've discussed involving those were performed by the *instructor*. Here we have the *students* (5th grade as well as "AP chem students") directly involved.

Also note the picture of fifth graders using sodium hydroxide with no gloves.

We have to find a way to stop this kind of stupidity. Maybe we need a web site called "Demonstrations That Are So Incredibly Stupid We Will Gladly Testify Against You In Court When Your Student Is Injured"

I saved a PDF of the page as I suspect it might disappear after some of our more avid list readers see it!

Rob Toreki
Safety Emporium - Lab & Safety Supplies featuring brand names
you know and trust. Visit us at
esales**At_Symbol_Here** or toll-free: (866) 326-5412
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