Beakers and Bunsen Burners

Middle school is dangerous.

Nothing proves this point more than science class. Science class doesn’t merely allow, but actually demands, activities that in elementary school are either frowned upon or banned: using glass beakers and test tubes, starting fires with Bunsen burners, mixing volatile chemicals, and using sharp objects to dissect animals. Glass can shatter, fire is dangerous, chemicals are toxic and deadly, and sharp objects can cause puncture wounds.

This sort of danger is completely absent from the elementary school curriculum. Sure, it is true that an elementary school student can fall from the monkey bars, slip on a polished floor, or be hit in the head by the occasional flying book. But these sources of danger are not intrinsic parts of the academic environment.

All that changes in middle school.

Science is intellectually invigorating of course, but what makes it all the more exciting is something else: the slight aura of danger surrounding it all.

The science classroom itself screams danger. There are eye-washing stations, plastic aprons, eye protection fit for a Wookie, an enormous first-aid kit, and a prominently displayed and easy-to-reach fire extinguisher. Plus, incessant safety lectures from the science teacher and safety videos bombard students with risk-avoidance strategies seemingly every week. Add to that the amount of paperwork required by science and it is almost enough to take away the thrill.


Categories: Middle School Memories | Leave a comment

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