The theme of the April issue of the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE), is Placing Chemistry in a World Context. Environmental science, green chemistry, waste management and service learning are few of the topics included in the issue. An overarching theme that should be embodied in not just these topics, but also every chemistry topic, is safety.
Every chemical lab activity or demonstration carries some level of hazard and risk. That said, when instructors use best practices, there should never be an injury. Unfortunately, accidents do occur. We have seen them in the news. They happen in research laboratories, at universities, in K-12 classrooms and at outreach events. It has never been more important to revisit our standards for demonstration and lab safety. The April issue of JCE includes two manuscripts that offer safety resources for educators.
The ACS Division of Chemical Education Safety Committee has worked to update the 1988 “Minimum Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations”. The revision emphasizes risk-based hazard assessment. You can find the new revision, “Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations” in the Supporting Information to the JCE commentary (that is freely available without a subscription), Revising the Division of Chemical Education Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations (Cesa, Finster, Samuella, Sigmann and Wilhelm). This document can also be found on the Division of Chemical Education website (scroll down the safety committee page to the title). The document was intentionally designed to fit on the front and back of one piece of paper. You may want to print it on cardstock and keep it handy in your classroom or workspace and refer to it when considering a lab or demonstration. The digital version offers several links that offer even more guidance. I hope you will share it with other teachers in your area.
Figure 1 - The graphic abstract representing a Manga in the JCE article, Presenting Safety
Topics Using a Graphic Novel, Manga. (Used with permission from JCE. Copyright 2018 ACS.)
The second safety related article, Presenting Safety Topics Using a Graphic Novel, Manga, To Effectively Teach Chemical Safety to Students in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand (Kumasaki, Shoji, Wu, Soontarapa, Arai, Mizutani, Okada, Shimizu, and Sugano), offers an alternative approach to increasing the hazard awareness of students. The authors of this study used Manga, a graphic novel, to engage students in learning about lab safety. Manga have been used previously for teaching history. These graphic novels provide space for a long storyline that helps students identify with the characters that are working in lab situations. (This article is available with a JCE subscription.)
I want to mention that Chad Husting mentions two chemical education research articles from this issue in his most recent ChemEd X blog post, Argument Driven Inquiry and Heat of Solutions. The first article explores the connections that students make between their prior knowledge and new material they are learning about bonding and energy changes. Chad found Dissolving Salts in Water: Students’ Particulate Explanations of Temperature Changes (Abell & Bretz) helpful as he prepared to teach about solution chemistry. The second article he mentions, Investigation of Undergraduate and Graduate Chemistry Students’ Understanding of Thermodynamic Driving Forces in Chemical Reactions and Dissolution (Bain & Towns) outlines an investigation of student understanding of energy and thermodynamic functions in both reactions and processes. (Both of these articles are available with a JCE subscription.)
Safety and ChemEd X
If you use the search bar on ChemEd X, you can find many posts related to "safety". I have included a short list of those posts here.
Safer SCI: Be Protected, Ken Roy
What Not To Do Lab, Doug Ragan
ACS Publishes Safety Alert, Deanna Cullen
Lab Accidents, Deanna Cullen
More from the April 2018 Issue of JCE
Mary Saecker’s post JCE 95.04 April 2018 Issue Highlights summarizes the issue for you. She has also mined the JCE archives to uncover even more articles related to the issues theme. The cover is related to a service learning chemistry project that is discussed in Quantifying Sucralose in a Water-Treatment Wetlands: Service-Learning in the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory.
Do you have a past JCE activity or article on safety or another topic included in the April issue that you are willing to share? Start by submitting a contribution form, explaining you would like to contribute to the Especially JCE column. Then, put your thoughts together in a blog post. Questions? Contact us using the ChemEd X contact form.