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Preschoolers Hospitalized After School Science Experiment Goes Wrong

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Twelve students at a Houston preschool were injured on Tuesday when a class science experiment didn’t go as planned. Most reportedly had minor burns but seven of the students had to be rushed to a local hospital.


According to CNN, the incident occurred at the Yellow School which is run by Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church. The students were outdoors watching an unidentified teacher demonstrate how to make colored flames using boric acid and methanol. It’s just the kind of cool science experiment that little kids would enjoy and when it works, it should look something like this. But if you get it wrong, a chemical flash can occur. A similar incident happened in Reno, Nevada at a Discovery Museum in 2014.

Apparently, the teacher had successfully changed the color of the flame a few times but the last one wouldn’t ignite. He added more alcohol to the mixture and the resulting flash injured the observing students. “It was an experiment that went wrong,” church business administrator Bob Giles told a local news outlet. “There was a brief moment of flame and it was put out fairly quickly.”


Hopefully, everyone comes out of this okay and doesn’t let it affect their outlook on science. The last thing we need is a bunch of kiddos at a religious school in Texas being turned off of the subject at an early age.


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Sadly, this is a somewhat frequent occurrence. The American Chemical Society had a report about these types of school accidents not too long ago. Usually, the teachers don’t have the necessary training to know what to not do during some experiments / demos. Sometimes, it’s also having faulty equipment or a lack of necessary things such as vent hoods. Although, with preschoolers, that’s a bit worse compared to high school kids.

As a chemist, I work with my local elementary school for their STEM days. I recently did some demos, but I made sure that it was all super safe stuff. I had made some magnetic silly putty. Even though it is fairly safe, I refused to let the students play with any of it. Mostly, because the magnets I had were quite strong, and I didn’t want anyone getting pinched fingers.