Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Smells and flashes and bangs

There is a good article by Josie Appleton on the Spiked website that links modern concerns for safety in schools with the decline of children's interest in science:

Jack Pridham, emeritus professor of biochemistry at Royal Holloway, University of London, says it was the "smells and flashes and bangs" that drew him to chemistry as a boy. "Now all the exciting stuff has gone out of the window."

Teachers say that they are increasingly cautious about old explosive favourites - burning hydrogen gas in air to create water, the thermite reaction (producing iron from a mix of iron oxide and aluminium), or the reaction between phosphorous and oxygen. The fractional distillation of crude oil (to show its different components) is avoided, because crude oil is considered carcinogenic (cancer-causing) - apparently some schools use ink and water instead.

Articles bemoaning the modern world tend at heart to be a complaint that young people are having too much fun these days. This, like many on Spiked, are based on the theory that they do have enough fun any more, which is why I am happy to plug it.

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