Thames Valley DSB Sir Wilfrid Laurier SS
Science Department Head and Chemistry Teacher
Open flames and ‘out of control’ chemistry are not tolerated in industry, but there are still quite a few accidents as a result of these practices in the high school setting. As high school teachers, it is important that we find safe, sustainable alternatives to some of the hazardous and sometimes dangerous chemistry labs that have been traditionally implemented. Replacement labs are labs that teach the same concepts, skills, and knowledge but use equipment and chemicals that are safe for our students and the environment. If we can teach the same exact kinetics concepts using starch and Vitamin C, then why not? Often, replacement labs involve materials that can be found at any drugstore or grocery store, which makes materials easy to acquire and familiar to students. Furthermore, it can be very powerful to discuss with students why you made the choice to switch to a more sustainable lab.
In this session, we’ll be discussing replacement labs including three examples of labs by Beyond Benign that can be used throughout the year. We’ll look at a Types of Reactions lab that puts students in the role of decision maker, where they are challenged to decide which of two options they’ll perform for each type of reaction. Then we’ll demonstrate a Le Chatelier’s Principle lab that can be taught with grocery store materials. Finally, we’ll explore a Sublimation of Caffeine lab that can be used to teach both phase changes as well as separating mixtures. We’re excited for your questions and feedback! If there are labs that you are looking for ‘greener’ alternatives for that we’re not covering in this session, please comment and let us know.