And they will be tempted to do similar "experiments" on their own.
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
Bam, nailed it.
I did an outreach at an elementary school years back and I said "Hi, my name's Rob and I'm a chemist. Does anyone know what a chemist does?" Many hands went up, and the kid that answered said "Blows things up."
That is precisely what we don't want kids to answer. Just like when I'm in a non-professional setting etc. and I say "Hi, my name's Rob and I'm a chemist" and I get the answer "Ooh, chemistry. I hated chemistry in high school/college." More on THAT challenge another time.
As much as I love doing the classic explosion/fire demos, I would NEVER EVER do them with an elementary audience for the reason Monona stated. You can do all sorts of great non-exploding/burning demonstrations at the elementary level that require students to pose hypotheses and then test them. And the students will have fun AND learn. From what I saw on the news report, we have a very enthusiastic and eager young scientist who believes that the former inspires the latter and has yet to grasp that they go hand-in-hand.
With a little mentorship, she could no doubt master that balance and achieve her stated goals much more effectively while simultaneously diminishing the probability of a copycat situation turning out wrong.
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