Fracking for Fuel on Shaky Ground – World Science Festival

Recent technological advances in horizontal drilling and fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, have allowed the United States to tap natural gas and oil reserves at record and near-record levels, helping the country become awash in cheap gasoline. But just what is fracking, and how has it been linked to earthquakes? Continue reading

The Evening Sky Map — Best Bargain In Town

Curriculum Connection: Grade 6 Space, Grade 9 Astronomy

To help find your way around the night sky, makes available for free each month The Evening Sky Map. It is a 2-page monthly guide to the night skies of the northern and southern hemispheres. Each issue contains a detailed sky map, a monthly sky calendar, and a descriptive list of the best objects to see with binoculars, a telescope, or using just your eyes. The font size on the printout is about a nine, but still readable for my aging eyes.

Great magazines like SkyNews (Canadian) and Astronomy (American) offer an equal amount of information as Skymaps and with interesting articles that befit magazines of this caliber.

Educators can make printed handouts for non-commercial educational use.

For educators and students who want a current sky map for free, this is one valuable resource.

The above Skymap is used with permission. See

The above Skymap is used with permission.

Some testimonials about Skymaps:
“Your sky maps are great — visually attractive, easy to use and information dense. Great for unaided eye and casual stargazing, a fine introduction to astronomy, especially for younger night sky explorers. Great job! Thanks!”
— Kevin M. Ahern (Massachusetts, USA)

“Great maps. I am so happy to have found you. Thank you. It helps so much to have a monthly map, for planets and such-like and rediscovering childhood constellations with my child.”
— Monty Drake (British Columbia, Canada)

By Stan Taylor
Stan Taylor is a retired elementary school teacher. He currently does science workshops for Scientists in School and is a member of the Crucible and Elements Editorial Committee (CEEC).

Learning by Accident – Do I Have to Wear Goggles?

accidental discoveriesA teacher began a project where students were asked to build a solar car. Students were instructed to take parts from last year’s projects. The teacher supplied students with the necessary tools that included screwdrivers, pliers, and wire snips. They were instructed to find parts that would be suitable for axles, gear assemblies (transmissions), car body frames, and switches. The solar panels supplied by the science department delivered a low voltage and current (6V, .5 amps). As the department head walked past the class, he stopped and asked the teacher to have students put on goggles. Was this action warranted?

Eye goggles should be used when there is a risk of lab materials entering the eye. Re-examine this particular activity. Students are prying, pulling and cutting apart hard plastic, metal and cutting wires. In all of these cases, fragments of the material may fly into the air. All people in that room should be wearing goggles for the entire activity, including cleanup. Additionally, equipping each student with a set of work gloves will prevent the cuts that will likely occur. As student compliance is likely going to be an issue, decide well ahead of the activity how you are going to respond. This may require verbal reminders, sit out time or complete removal from the classroom.

In 2001, a student was instructed to bend a stiff wire as part of a project. The teacher did not provide just-in-time instructions with regard to safety. Students were not given glasses to wear, and during the procedure, the wire punctured his eye.

With regards to safety instruction and protective equipment, the court stated that:

“The standard is that of a reasonably careful parent who must guard against reasonably foreseeable risks, not remote possibilities.”
“To require more and contend that a prudent man must foresee any possibility would render impossible any practical activity.”

In this instance where stiff wire was being bent, was this accident a remote possibility, or probable and foreseeable? Was the student partially to blame as he had not requested goggles or gone to the drawer to get them? The court ruled that the accident was both probable and foreseeable, and that there was no contributory negligence on the part of the student.

Goggles are to be used when there is a possibility for lab materials or equipment to enter the eye. High impact glasses with side shields have limited use in science as they can allow materials to enter via the gap between the face and the glass rim. In every case where high impact glasses may be used, goggles can always be used. Face shields are to be used in conjunction with goggles and are appropriate only for teachers, and used when handling chemicals such as corrosive chemicals.


Michaluk v. Rolling River School Division No. 3 et al, 2001 MBCA 45 (CanLII) — 2001-03-16 Court of Appeal — Manitoba.

Submitted by a STAO/APSO member
Learning by Accident is a blog feature, in which real-life lab accidents or incidents were recounted and explained. The goal is to highlight the consequence of ignoring safety rules so that science educators will be further encouraged to become knowledgeable, and to take appropriate action, in areas of safety that affect their daily activities in the science classroom. Submissions are still encouraged. Anonymity will be guaranteed.