Undergraduates Need a Safety Education is the title found in the commentary section of the September 2016 Journal of Chemical Education. It is written by Robert H. Hill Jr and it explains the lack of safety education in chemistry curriculum. As I read this, I thought back to my safety education that prepared me for my role as a high school chemistry teacher and felt I was very fortunate to have had an undergradutae class that was specifically designed to teach chemical safety.
Safety / Hazardous Materials
Providing Unique Learning Experiences
The February 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: metal–organic cage & host–guest interactions; safety; innovative teaching approaches; understanding kinetics; computer-based instruction; activities combining ethics and analysis; “play with your food” laboratories; synthesis and analysis in the laboratory; fluorescence-based experiments; chemical education research; mining the archives: copper.
During the first week of school, I welcome my students to the What Not To Do Lab. The PDF is available for free at the Laboratory Safety Institute website. I use the cartoon activity to review their Safety Contract handout from the night before (I use the one from FLINN Scientific). With more than 30 safety violations shown, the cartoon serves as a great ice breaker as I have each student introduce themselves and then list a safety infraction being shown on the cartoon.
This can be completed easily within a 50 min class period.
CLEAPSS is a subscription service, but our YouTube Channnel is an open source. The videos are designed for teachers and technicians in schools. They may just give you ideas. I have just put one up about electrostatics and the effect of magnets on water and oxygen. In a couple of weeks I hope to have a sequel showing the effect of magnets on precipitates and complexes.
(A look at workplace exposure limits found in MSDS sheets)
There is useful information in section 8 of a (Material) Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that teachers can use and shows how a knowledge of chemical equations and calculations helps protect the health of their students and themselves and helps to assure their employers and safety officers that teachers and lecturers are responsible and professional users of chemicals.
Whenever a serious incident takes place in a school chemistry laboratory or classroom, fire and safety officers often pontificate on the incident by quoting the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). However, how many of you have read such documents in full? In UK schools we have perhaps 200 to 400 chemicals on the shelves. Have you read the MSDSs for each chemical?
I recently spoke by email with Bob Worley as he prepared an article, But Surely That’s Banned, sharing some thoughts on chemical safety for teachers from his UK perspective. Part of the discussion revolved around our shared concern for using methanol for demonstrations. The Fire Tornado demonstration, that was part of the September 2014 Nevada museum incident, can easily be found in written form and video in a quick Google search.
The Royal Society of Chemistry became increasingly frustrated in 2004 when academics (the “when I was a lad” variety”), National Tabloids (it’s “‘elf un safety gone mad” variety), and many teachers were quoting health & safety fears as the reasons not to do practical science work and demonstrations.
Statement from the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety regarding the “Tornado Experiment” Explosion in a Science Museum in Reno, Nevada