A good idea to present the history behind this issue. Very well written.
I am sure that this will be appreciated by chemistry teachers.
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This issue is more complex than just the risk associated with this "liquid methane" demonstration.
Teachers are often motivated to do demonstrations that will hopefully motivate students to work more on their chemistry studies. Every teacher of every subject has the same challenge, to motivate their students, especially given the competition from a myriad of electronic media and games. In some cases, this "wow" factor application may even be encouraged and/or rewarded by supervisors.
I saw a similar application demonstrated decades ago at a meeting of the Chemistry Teachers Club of New York. Methane from the tap was liquefied by being run into a test tube that was immersed in liquid nitrogen. At that time there was considerable debate about the wisdom of building LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals in NY City and on Long Island. Within that context the demonstration may have been a valuable lesson. What would happen if there was a tank rupture leading to the transporting of gas through the sewers? The procedure shown in this video seems far from prudent.
Since the methanol incident in January 2014, at the Beacon School, I have been re-motivated to do presentations to teachers with the theme of "how to avoid doing potentially career ending demonstrations" while still balancing the desire to impress and motivate students. One must also stand up against the forces that would prohibit all real, hands on, chemistry experience in favor of computer simulations.
Although there is required safety training, my experience has been that most presentations are perfunctory, just to meet the nominal requirements. Teachers and other staff may be bored by the repetition of the same story year after year. Long before the OSHA and PESH requirements, NY City schools had a Science Safety Manual for grades K-12. Every science teacher was required to certify in writing that they had read the manual, each year. As you can imagine, everyone signed, but who knows how many read it or re-read it each year.
With the assistance of materials from Jim Kaufman at LSI, I have done 2 similar presentations in NY City during this school year. While not very well attended, the reaction of the teachers has been enhanced awareness and appreciation of the risks they may be taking. My emphasis is to encourage finding "safer" alternatives. Is the demonstration really necessary to teach a particular principle? Are there less risky materials to use? One of the attendees pointed out that if you cannot find a safe way, you can use YouTube, etc.
As newsletter editor for the Chemistry Teachers Club of New York, I have been including articles and excerpts of the accident and incident reports from this group, especially those involving schools. Next Friday is our annual "demo derby" meeting, at NYU. All attendees and demonstrators are informed that appropriate safety procedures must be observed. Some of these demonstrations are done just for their entertainment value, but when done in a classroom, they should be tied directly to the curriculum.
Chemistry Teachers Club of New York
UFT Science Committee, Co-chair
Brooklyn Technical High School (retired)
----- Original Message -----
From: Jeffrey Lewin
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2015 12:38 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Liquid methane experiment in class
And this Daily Mail article allegedly identifies the school and teacher.
On Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 12:24 PM, Jeffrey Lewin <jclewin**At_Symbol_Here**mtu.edu> wrote:
This article gives the original YouTube upload...but there isn't much additional information on MuzGTG's channel:
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