MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Experts say there’s little oversight of what happens in classroom laboratories, which is often overlooked until there’s an accident like the one early this month in Maple Grove.

A middle school teacher there was demonstrating the volatility of methanol by igniting the vapors in a plastic bottle. Four students were burned when something went wrong and the fire got out of control.

Ken Roy is the lab safety expert with the National Science Teachers Association. He says most lab accidents can be prevented with basic safety equipment and training, but many school districts don’t provide it.

He didn’t have firsthand knowledge of the Maple Grove accident, but he says methanol is too unpredictable for classroom use.

An Osseo schools spokeswoman says the accident is under investigation.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (6)
  1. mark says:

    So what you are saying Mr Roy is our public teachers are not qualified? Lousy story WCCO, please learn how to answer the basic questions.

    1. Swamp Rat says:

      Read the story story again? It’s no that teachers are not qualified but lacking in hazardous experiment & fire safety instructions/training! It’s more than just a common sense issue but classroom safety during experiments need more diligence and/or training!

  2. Richard in Minneapolis says:

    OMG, I feel a new bureaucracy coming on…

    1. Swamp Rat says:

      It’s not a new bureaucracy but common sense and classroom safety instruction for class experiments! Read the story again!

  3. Marilyn says:

    Where was THIS science teachers head/brain???? igniting methanol vapours??? ina class room of students?? the excuse: ‘oh hes done it many times before and all was well’ , this was just a fluke accident.’ at the very least this reeks of incompentence,negligence& stupidity!!! yeah we all make ‘mistakes’ this is beyond mistake, kids could of easily been killed. for this teacher he should be fired, maybe harsh but look what happen to that young man who was burned.

    1. Swamp Rat says:

      Good points in your comments but it boils down to common sense, classroom safety, and intelligent classroom experiments. This chemistry/science teacher needs to be retrained on what proper protocols must used for classroom experiments and fire safety instruction for such. Schools should have classroom protocols and/or standards for lab experiments.

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