Last year, Mr. Scott’s science class was a little too interesting! The students were conducting their final and most advanced chemistry experiment. They were instructed to partner up and each group brought their supplies carefully over to their work space areas including,
- some test tubes to store the products and chemicals;
- a test tube holder to safely hold the test tube while it was hot;
- an eye dropper to measure and transfer some of the chemicals/products into the test tube
- two pairs of safety glasses to protect your eyes; and
- an electric hot plate to heat up some of the chemicals/products.
The items and the products that the students required included plain water, paint thinner labeled as ”caution flammable” (meaning it could cause a fire) and a pesticide that was labeled ”caution poison” (meaning if ingested it could cause one to be sick or die) these two items were consumer hazards. Mr. Scott then instructed the students to follow the written instructions that he provided including informing them that the aerosol can of hairspray had a WHMIS symbol showing an explosive hazard and the bleach had a WHMIS symbol showing the product as corrosive. After the students put on their safety glasses and did their other safety checks, the students began to carefully measure the chemicals/products with the eye dropper and place it into the test tube. The students used the test tube holder and placed the test tube over the hot plate to begin heating the chemicals/products up being careful that no one was touching it. As the chemicals/products started heating up one of the groups got distracted by their phone and looked away from their experiment. Suddenly the chemicals/products started boiling over the test tube and exploded, causing glass to go flying everywhere. They made sure that they were not hurt nor anyone else and called the teacher over. The teacher instructed them to turn the hot plate off and to put the broken glass into the broken glass bucket. Later that day another group had a student touch the chemicals/products with their hands and then rub their eye causing a burning feeling in their eye. Instead of telling the teacher what happened and going to the eye wash station immediately, a student let mixed chemicals/products dry in their eye and ended up with permanent vision lost in one of their eyes. At the end of the day, Mr. Scott asked the student to consider whether they thought it would be appropriate to use the chemicals from their experiment on lab rats and other animals to learn about how they would react to contamination. The students realized that this was an ethical dilemma, and decided that it would be wrong.
I sure hope that our classes big science day will go more smoothly!