Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Chemistry class safety standards could interfere with college prep

A recent accident in a chemistry class at a Fairfax County high school (Woodson) has led to a policy banning all “open flame” lab experiments, as reported in the Washington Post Metro Section here today

Small open flame experiments have been common to demonstrate how chemicals can change the color of flame.  Teachers have shown what happens when sodium contacts water.

Critics are saying that students need experience with these kinds of situations as proper college prep.  This news story got some circulation on Twitter today.

Indeed, when I was a freshman in college (which restarted at GWU in the spring of 1962) I had placed into second year chemistry (Qual) but didn’t have the comfort with lab experiments.  At one time in my youth, I didn’t even like to light matches.  As I recall, Quant was actually easier (there were titrations) but organic chemistry was a bear, with the preps.  I’ll go into this in more detail on my Wordpress “dadtnotes” blog soon, because now my experience back in 1963 seems relevant.
(See also a note here on Oct. 29.)

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