It’s funny what students remember

Several years ago for professional reasons I changed schools.  Moving from one high school to the next nearest geographically had a few perks.  One of them was my first year some of my old students found their way in to visit me.  This was before heightened school security and it was great to see friendly faces.

“Hi Teacher,” followed by a big hug.

“Wait, you don’t go here,” was my confused reply.  He then explained his cousin did so he came to visit.  We can pretend he wasn’t supposed to be in school someplace else, okay?

“Do you remember when I set off the eyewash?”

Of course.  But why that should be the crowning memory of an entire year of chemistry I’ll never know.  But you don’t get to pick what other people think is important or funny or humorous.  The class was doing a relatively simple experiment adding measured amounts of salt to boiling water to see how it changed the boiling point.  His group added the salt and the water bubbled out of the beaker, all over the hotplate hissing and making a mess.  He jumps back off of his lab stool, good reflexes saving him from the boiling water, only to step on the foot pedal of the Emergency Eye Wash.  For some reason, known only to the architect that designed the school, close behind the back student lab station was the eyewash and safety shower.  This particular one had not only a hand lever, but a foot pedal too.  And an even “better” feature was the fact that the eye wash spouted water, into and beyond the bowl, until you manually pulled a bar back over the entire contraption.  So, from the front of the lab I make my way to the back, make sure no one is hurt, unplug the wet electric hot plate and reach into the full force fountains in the eye wash and turn it off.  My only thought was, great, now I have to try to get a custodian to mop up this mess.  But apparently this will be what he remembers about high school chemistry forever.

I assume what happened is similar to the “Water Boiled in Microwave Suddenly Explodes” chain emails of yesteryear.  See Snopes.


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