From: Monona Rossol <0000030664c37427-dmarc-request**At_Symbol_Here**LISTS.PRINCETON.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Teacher Makes Chemistry Fun With Exploding Experiments
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2017 09:18:59 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: 15f34c97788-c0d-73ce**At_Symbol_Here**

Thanks, Edward.  That's very clear and organized.  And to add to the "monkey see, monkey do" argument, teachers should watch some of the You Tube and TV videos of kids doing things that people think are funny, that kids post in hopes of going viral, and are often dangerous.

The TV producers that air these videos and the people who watch them or who view the You Tubes and "like" them, are complicit in pushing kids to take risks.  

The whole point of professional circus and movie stunt work is to make things look dangerous when they are really not.  There is science involved in assessing the risks and setting up the PPE and practicing a stunt or a magic illusion.  Instead, we have so lost our discipline and respect for ourselves in this quest for a minute's fame and adulation that we are almost suicidal.  

And I have seen that attitude spill over into the professional theatrical and film community as well, especially in the indies. 

I'm this morose because I will be training graduate technical theater students today in hazcom.  As usual, they will have never heard of any of it.  Yet they are the ones using the chemical products, calculating load-ratings and setting up special effects.  They also will bring no science backgrounds to this training, which makes retention limited.  

So if you want to know who else is complicit in this outrageous situation, it is the schools that do not have regular and intense OSHA training and basic science requirements for degrees in the arts.  And that is, unfortunately, most schools.  

Now I can get on with it.

Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President:  Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012     212-777-0062


-----Original Message-----
From: McGrath Edward J <Edward.McGrath**At_Symbol_Here**REDCLAY.K12.DE.US>
Sent: Thu, Oct 19, 2017 3:05 am
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Teacher Makes Chemistry Fun With Exploding Experiments

I've just come off a period where I didn't have much use of an actual computer, so I've been following this feed and the one about using a spray bottle for the rainbow demo on my phone.  I just saw the clip, and here are some reflections from K-12 education, where I spend most of my waking hours with children and their teachers.
First and foremost, I have NEVER met any reputable chemist who decided to study chemistry because of a show like this or for the purposes of "blowing stuff up."  This is, as Monona put it, theatrics, not science.  In terms of planning a science lesson, I tell teachers and administrators alike that the risk assessment begins with the lesson plan:  measureable learning objectives, a clear expectation of what students are to do, and assessment of student work.  Some science teachers are notorious for preparing "dog and pony show" science lessons for students or for observations.  If those elements of the lesson plan are not evident (i.e. if the lesson is confusing "student engagement" with "student entertainment") it's a pretty good guess that the lesson isn=E2=80™t very safe, either.
As for the concern, "they may want to try their own =E2=80=98experiments'," believe it!  We in education stress the importance of scientific reports being replicated.  A disclaimer of "kids, don=E2=80™t try this at home!" is a joke.  We have to be keenly aware of what our students are actually seeing.  I sometimes hear, "oh don't worry, I only do this with my honors classes!"  Guess what:  your Honors students have friends and siblings who hear about this "really exciting demo" and try to re-create it-in the basement.  Or the back yard.  And like it or not, if injury occurs, the teacher still can be ruled as negligent through proximate cause!
I think the science education community needs to do a much better job of including safer practice as an integral part of science, not as an afterthought (or even worse, an assumption).
Eddie McGrath
Edward J. McGrath
Supervisor of Science
Red Clay Consolidated School District
1502 Spruce Avenue
Wilmington, DE  19805
(302) 552-3768
We did not inherit the Earth from our parents.  We borrowed it from our children.
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of ILPI Support
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 1:20 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Teacher Makes Chemistry Fun With Exploding Experiments
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.
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
Fax: (856) 553-6154, PO Box 1003, Blackwood, NJ 08012
--- For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional secretary at secretary**At_Symbol_Here** Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas
--- For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional secretary at secretary**At_Symbol_Here** Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas
--- For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional secretary at secretary**At_Symbol_Here** Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.