Investigating Safely:

Safe Science!
The first of two Web Seminars on the topic of Investigating Safely was held on Wednesday, January 25, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The session was presented by Juliana Texley and Terry Kwan, co-authors of the NSTA Press book Investigating Safely: A Guide for High School Teachers.

Web Seminar player window

The session started with a general overview of the Web Seminar tools and how they can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenter. Forty-four participants were present in addition to the presenters and the NSTA staff. Educators represented the states of Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Four participants joined the program from Canada, Bulgaria, and Greece.

Texley and Kwan talked about safety in the science classroom and laboratory and the role teachers can play in making a safer environment for all students. They began their presentation with examples of classroom safety incidents that have made the news These incidents involved hazardslike fires, fumes, a nd growing bacteria. Texley proceeded to talk about the critical factors that teachers must pay attention to avoid accidents in the science lab. Research shows that having sufficient space between students in the laboratory is by far the most important factor to take into account. Data shows that the number of accidents in the science classroom increases as space between students decreases. The presenters also talked about providing a safe environment for special needs students. Considerations for these students might include wheelchair access, Braille signage, or bilingual labels.

Web Seminar player window with poll questions answers

Another factor to consider is making sure that safety equipment is maintained properly. All equipment should always be functional and accessible. The presenters also discussed safe storage of equipment and materials as well as the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that should be always accessible to teachers and students in the classroom. Finally, Kwan talked about the importance of selecting appropriate eyewear for the science lab. Throughout the presentation there were several opportunities for interactions among the participants and presenters, including answering poll questions, chatting, stamping, marking, and interacting verbally with each other.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "I enjoyed participating. This was my first web seminar and I am amazed at the capability for interaction. I need to look into how to run one of these for my students to interact with others around the world. I am looking forward to your future topics."
  • "I learned that I need to let all the teachers in my department know about the MSDS sheet needs. I will buy a notebook and plastic holder for each classroom somehow."
  • "Very good, real-world information. I am a student teacher in biology right now, and information I have received prior to this is fairly theoretical, and focused on very basic student safety (goggles, safety contracts, etc). This information was excellent."
  • "The web seminar was a great way to learn about a topic. The presentation was interactive verbally and physically. It was a great refresher course in laboratory safety. Flavio helped to bring together the chat room conversation to the online application. Thank you!"

Thanks to the participants and the presenters for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done! Join us for the second Investigating Safely Web Seminar scheduled to take place in February 22, 2006.

Web Seminar I Resources


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Underwritten in part by NSTA Press