I am very interested in identifying opportunities to use safety examples to illustrate scientific principles as a teaching strategy for both safety and science.
Along these lines, a colleague shared this anecdote with me during a discussion on a different topic:
"I had a very cautious student take a heat gun to a flask of frozen benzene to warm it up. They were truly surprised by the fire that resulted."
It was not intuitively clear to me what was going on here until I looked up the melting point of benzene (42 degrees F) and the flashpoint (12 degrees F) and saw that solid benzene is still flammable. Am I correct in interpreting this to mean that frozen benzene is sublimating enough gas to support a flame if the vapor doesn't disperse too quickly? This seems to me like an opportunity to connect the scientific concept of sublimation to a memorable lesson by using safety data and connect science and safety in an educational way.
I wonder if other people have similar examples of Science taught through considering Safety Scenarios.
Thanks for any thoughts on this.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
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