From: DAVID Katz <DAKATZ45**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 'Large fireball' injures students in chemistry experiment gone wrong
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2017 22:42:33 +0000
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: MWHPR11MB196711E27518421774095A07C5260**At_Symbol_Here**

As safety professionals, many of you have no idea of teaching at the precollege level. You are active in your field and your professional organizations. Putting out a warning through ACS, AACT, NSTA, and any other organization does not reach every teacher.  Many, and I venture to say an overwhelming  majority, do not belong to these organizations, go to conferences, local meetings, or get these warnings through another source.  Many work in "isolation" in their classrooms, have been doing the same demonstrations and activities for years and have been lucky that mishaps have not occurred.  Proper safety equipment is not available in many schools.

Future teachers do not get safety education in their curriculum.  It's true that safety education is not a sufficient part of the courses they take, but they are not necessarily taking rigorous science courses. In many cases its some basic biology, physical science, geology, and Earth science.  They see some of these demonstrations on TV, online, or just learn them from another "uniformed" teacher. Often, the directions they given for those activities are incomplete without proper set-up and clean-up information and safety. 

I understand Harry's comment about "pain of change", but those accidents "don't happen to me".  If an administrator does learn about those accidents, then they want to ban some or even all demonstrations and activities in the classroom. Proper safety education and the knowledge of properly handling chemicals and laboratory equipment is not seen by them as a cure and preventative.

When I taught at a college where approximately 70% of the students were studying to be precollege, and mostly pre-high school teachers, I included safety with all the demonstrations and activities I presented and taught.  I tried to change the science requirements, for all teachers, from 2 semesters to 4 semesters with special courses in chemistry, physics, biology, and geology-Earth science.  The education coordinator resisted any changes as, in that individual's opinion, the 2 semesters of science was sufficient.

I applaud all the individuals who have reached out to schools in their localities, states, and even across the country to provide guidance and safety training to teachers.  In my opinion, we still have a long way to go.


  David A. Katz             
  Chemist, Educator, Expert Demonstrator, Science Communicator, and  Consultant
  Programs and workshops for teachers, schools, museums, and the public
  5003 Canby Dr. * Wilmington, DE 19808-1102 *  USA
  voice/fax: (302) 509-3282 * email: dakatz45**At_Symbol_Here**
           Visit my web site:

----- Original Message -----
From: James Kaufman
Sent: Friday, November 24, 2017 2:15 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 'Large fireball' injures students in chemistry experiment gone wrong


One perfect example of lack of awareness of safety information is the AAPT's "Safety in Physics Education".  Ninety-Five percent of school and college physics teachers and faculty have never seen it.  The first eleven pages are free! ... Jim

James A. Kaufman, Ph.D.

The Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI)

A Nonprofit Educational Organization for 
Safety in Science, Industry, and Education

192 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760-2252
508-647-1900  Fax: 508-647-0062 
Cell: 508-574-6264  Res: 781-237-1335
Skype: labsafe; 508-319-1225


Teach, Learn, and Practice  Science Safely

On Fri, Nov 24, 2017 at 12:04 PM, Stuart, Ralph <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
>What is needed is common sense. Is this something that can be learned?

The question is where the common sense needs to be located. The NFPA has already laid out very explicit expectations for classroom chemical demonstrations that enable a prudent person to work safely. However, it's not clear to me that either the teachers (or other demonstrators in public spaces, such as museums, daycares or scout gatherings) are aware of this standard. In my opinion, school administrators need to be more curious about why not...

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
603 358-2859


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