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: 

Click here to download the complete article

Don’t Be Shocked—Electrical Safety – Flinn Scientific Canada

Accidents involving electricity can cause shock, burns, and even death. Reviewing and following a few basic rules will help you improve electrical safety when working with hot plates, electrophoresis equipment, power supplies, Van de Graaff generators, etc. Continue reading

Christmas Tree Safety – Cool Science Demonstration

 

There’s nothing like the fresh smell of a real tree, but real trees can also pose a serious fire hazard if the tree accidentally dries out. Steve Spangler shares a “television-only” science demonstration with firefighters in a controlled situation that illustrates how dry trees are susceptible to catching fire and ways to avoid this potential fire risk. Continue reading

Health and Safety Video Contest

 

Click on the image or here for more details. 

Overview

Workers who are new to a job are three times more likely to be injured during the first month on the job than more experienced workers.

The It’s Your Job student video contest is put on by the Ministry of Labour to help high school students learn and talk about safety on the job.  Continue reading

World’s First Car! and Car Safety- Veritasium

Physics is something that is directly applicable to car safety. Cars go fast, but they also sometimes collide with obstacles, which brings them to a sudden stop, subjecting the car and occupants to very high accelerations, which can cause injury or death. So the major idea to improve car safety is to reduce these accelerations and there are a number of ways to do this: Continue reading