Sample Science Safety Contract from Flinn

Science is a hands-on laboratory class. You will be doing many laboratory activities that require the use of hazardous chemicals. Safety in the science classroom is the #1 priority for students, teachers and parents. To ensure a safe science classroom, a list of rules has been developed and provided to you in this student safety contract. These rules must be followed at all times. Two copies of the contract should be used. One copy should be signed by both the student and a parent or guardian and turned in before participating in the laboratory. The second copy should be kept in the student’s science notebook as a constant reminder of the safety rules.

Click here to go to the source of the safety contract

Learning by Accident: Spotty Evidence!

sudan IV, oil and water

sudan IV, oil and water

Curriculum Connection: High-school Biology

I was preparing Sudan IV for a nutrient lab for grade 11 SBI3C biology. In order to use the chemical as an indicator for fats and oils, I needed to mix the Sudan IV powder with ethanol. I followed proper safety precautions (gloves, goggles, fume hood). Somehow, a small amount of the Sudan IV powder got on my hand. I promptly washed my hands with soap and water, and checked the MSDS which advised me to flush the exposed area with water. After flushing, my hand appeared to be clean. Continue reading

A Safer Alternative to the Rainbow Demonstration

While serious accidents causing catastrophic injury in high school science activities are rare, when they occur their human toll can be devastating.  This post examines one potentially dangerous demo, its hazards and suggestions for safer alternatives.

The Rainbow Flame Demonstration:

Several of the most serious science accidents have resulted from the combustion of flammable liquids in teacher demonstrations like the rainbow flame demonstration.  In this demo, metals salts are heated in a ceramic dish containing burning methanol.  The flame colour observed is characteristic of the metal.  Click on this link for an example of how this demo is sometimes done. Please note that the procedure used in this video, in our opinion, is unsafe, inappropriate for students of any age and NOT recommended for teachers.

The Hazard:

Methanol vapours are extremely flammable. Furthermore, since the density of methanol is greater than that or air, methanol vapour can flow invisibly across surfaces like the demonstration desk and onto the floor towards unsuspecting observers. A flame, spark or even a hot surface can supply sufficient energy to ignite the vapour and create a sudden flash fire. The situation can be even more catastrophic if a nearby open container of methanol is present.

The Safer (and Better) Way: 

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