From: Samuella Sigmann <sigmannsb**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Subject: [DCHAS-L] Letter to the National PTA regarding the rainbow flamedemo
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2019 10:02:02 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: e3bb0c57-d09e-c137-57b3-8b3ab4869f27**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <5d10ad1d.1c69fb81.fb077.0125**At_Symbol_Here**>

On 6/24/2019 6:59 AM, Meg Osterby wrote:

When I did my teacher education coursework, they stressed that I'd always need to keep learning more and more chemistry content to keep up with the science. Apparently, my daughter and her colleagues are being taught something very different, and I believe it is a big part of the problem we are facing. My daughter thinks that teacher education should focus only on pedagogy, and let the subject area courses teach the content.

This was addressed at the trial. The defense lawyer wanted to claim that the school did not need to insure that teachers knew about the NY Department of Education Science Safety Manual because they could be expected to know all about that based on their education and degree. However, for some reason he went on to bring up a quote in my paper that stating how few teachers were actually educated in safety. I said that this is precisely why the school was negligent in not making sure all their teachers knew the basics of safety outlined in a pretty good DOE manual. There is no indication that any training on the lab standard or GHS had ever taken place. The teacher had access to colleagues who were very experienced and immediately stated to officials that there were safer ways to do this in their statements. The teacher did not have to show a lesson or safety plan to anyone or let anyone know what she was doing that day. She did not know who the school safety officer was (that is a whole other story).

This was not an accident. It was a predictable and preventable outcome of improper handling of the flammable solvent. The stock containers of the nitrates were also right on the work bench. No stock bottles of reagents should have been in the work area - education. The class started at 9:00 am the first day back after a 3 week winter break. There was a child burning on the floor at 9:05 am. Students were barely in the room and seated (some were still arriving according to depositions and testimony). Where was there control of the class? Where was the discussion about electronic structure? Where was the safety discussion with the children? I said there was not even enough time to take roll.

The defense lawyer wanted to make a big deal out of the fact that the NFPA article which discusses flame jetting shows no evidence that a hot evaporating dish can be an ignition source. I stayed with the fact that there was a fire and so there must have been an ignition source be it a flame, hot dish, or static . The teacher should not have had casual access to a jug of MeOH in the work area and should not have tried to restart the demo - education.

The room had 1 exit by the teacher desk which became blocked as Alonzo was sitting closest to the door. Alonzo was 2 - 3 feet from the front desk. There was no shield. All of the guidance that could have prevented or minimized the results of the day was in the DOE manual which was published in 2008, but the information was not known and/or not disseminated because Beacon was a prestigious school and did not need to tell their people about basic safety information (according to the defense).

You should provide your daughter (and others) with my article. The hospital photos of Alonzo were entered into evidence over the objection of the defense lawyer as being "inflammatory". Imagine using that word in front of the child and his family. The reporting said that some of the jurors turned away. I did not turn away when those photos were emailed to me.

Maybe those who design teacher education curriculum could see fit to give up a course in bulletin board design for one in safety for teachers who will be working with chemicals and demonstrations?



We, the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do everything with nothing. Teresa Arnold paraphrased from Konstantin Josef Jire?ek (1854 ?? 1918)

Samuella B. Sigmann, MS, NRCC-CHO

Chair, ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety, 2019

Senior Lecturer/Safety Committee Chair/Director of Stockroom


Appalachian State University

525 Rivers Street

Boone, NC 28608

Phone: 828 262 2755

Fax: 828 262 6558

Email: sigmannsb**At_Symbol_Here**

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