Lab Experiment That Burned Teen Has Bad Track Record
Feds warned about 'Rainbow' last month
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2014 8:58 AM CST
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(Newser) – A 16-year-old Manhattan student was nearly burned to death this week in a school science experiment gone horribly wrong, reports the Daily News, and it turns out that the experiment in question has a long track record of such accidents. In fact, the US Chemical Safety Board issued a video warning about "the Rainbow" less than a month ago, reports the New York Times. The incident at Beacon High School followed the usual pattern: a teacher used an accelerant (methanol) to burn minerals and produce different colored flames.

Except one of the flames turned into a fireball that severely burned Alonzo Yanes and gave another student less serious injuries. The students weren't wearing goggles or aprons, and the New York Post reports that other safety protocols weren't followed. The CSB warning last month included a video that featured 23-year-old Calais Weber, who nearly died at age 15 in a similar accident. "I read this article last night about the New York students and honestly, I cried," she tells the Times. "I can’t believe this keeps happening.” The CSB, an independent federal agency, did not call for the experiment to be banned, but it cited several such accidents across the country. “What do we need to do to stop the cycle?” asks an investigator with the board.

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Showing 3 of 46 comments
reasonme
Jan 5, 2014 1:19 PM CST
Part of the problem is our terrible education system. We have teachers who don't actually know much about chemistry and don't know how to teach, but they find an experiment that makes pretty flame colors to show their students and they say, "I'll do that!" So you have kids completing a chemistry course and the only thing they remember about it was the pretty rainbow flames.
Tengu ?? Slayer of Vanity
Jan 5, 2014 1:17 AM CST
I had the distinct impression that my high school chemistry teacher, then a recent Vietnam vet, was actually trying to kill us.
Ezekiel 25:17
Jan 4, 2014 12:35 PM CST
These mamby pamby students we have today. I'm from the picric acid, potassium perchlorate, and trinitrotoluene era. And that was just high school. The chemistry sets dad got me when I was a teen had some serious crap in it. You made things like flash powder, photo reagents, thermo reagents, and a nice supply of mercury to play with. One day the chemistry teacher saw me stocking up on glycerine at the local Stones grocery store. He said, "Why so much glycerine?" I replied, "I will be discussing the rest of the chems with you later." Now ,let me be perfectly clear, todays kids are in fact geniuses on chemistry. Have you seen the quality of today's methamphetamine powder? These kids take complicated compounds and extract out the pseudo-ephedrine. The makers go to great lengths to make this process difficult but today's teens learn how to titrate it out like its sugar crystals.