It has happened again. We just published a “Lab Accidents” blog with a link to the US Chemical Safety Board’s video entitled “After the Rainbow” published December 10, 2013. Less than a month later, a young boy has experienced the same nightmare scenario as the one described in the video.
A young, safety conscious, teacher used the same Rainbow Demo that many teachers have used around the country to allow students to visualize the different flame colors shown when we burn metal salts. It happened to be the same demonstration as the one in the video, but this isn’t about banning any one demonstration. We have to advocate for safety training, responsibility and accountability. Teachers search the web for ideas and exciting ways to engage their students. The Rainbow Demo can be found under many different titles and the procedure can vary slightly. I have seen it done at professional development venues as an example of a good way to excite students (not always using methanol, but a flammable substitute). We can find better ways of exciting our students than risking an accident like this. Teachers, teacher preparation institutions and schools need to face this reality. I grieve for this boy, his parents, his classmates and his young teacher. Please share this with your network of science teachers.