I agree with many of these posts, and feel that we need to find some way to discriminate safety issues and hazard issues with chemical demos. However, I think it‰??s hard, and a multi faceted approach may in fact be necessary.
Case in point - at our University we have a lot of students doing community involvement programs. For this, they often go to our local schools and do demos, sometimes science demos. Rarely do they discuss with me the dangers or safety in doing a particular demo. In fact, many times I don‰??t even know they are out there until I hear about it later from teachers (I‰??m at a small school in a small town, we literally know everybody). My point is this, I don‰??t have an effective way to ensure that all chem demos run through me prior to performance, and I‰??m in a fairly controlled environment.
There are many programs that put young teachers out there in the school systems. Teach for America is one of the biggest, but not the only one (there are many TFA like programs). Student teachers in these programs are typically not education based, and sometimes just majored in a science, not necessarily chemistry. They don‰??t have a basis for safety, they just you tube what‰??s cool and try to do something that seems fun. They are too young to recognize that something may be dangerous (seriously, I was there once), and it honestly never crosses their mind.
School administrators at school systems change frequently (In the past 8 years prior, we went through 5 HS principals alone). So targeting schools might be the best plan, but how.
Recently a colleague of mine received a chemical demo packet from ACS including citric acid, baking soda, and all the equipment needed to do a small hands on experiment with a room full of about 20 or so young kids. Why can‰??t we as an organization generate similar boxes for chemical demos - and in those boxes include safety information and hazards. We could distribute these free to schools (many are not ACS members, so some of it may be random mailings of postcards to see who reads and responds). I think for most demos, since you are just talking about 1 demonstration for maybe 4-6 classrooms, it should be relatively inexpensive, and would hopefully get the word out. That‰??s a huge task I know, but one worth thinking about.
I try to train students at my University about safety, and I don‰??t worry as much about the ones that hear me, it‰??s the ones that don‰??t that make me nervous. I don‰??t know how to reach students at our school that go out and do demos (I could ask the schools to be strict and only allow kids that have had a paper signed by me, but that may or may not work). It‰??s something I‰??ve been pondering for quite some time, and unfortunately I still don‰??t have an answer here.
Good luck with this. I honestly think this is an area where we should have major focus in an effort to at least limit (and possibly eliminate) injuries due to unawareness.
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