Teacher Sets Fire to Himself

June 22nd, 2013

Courtesy of LiveLeak, here’s another great chemistry demo. And by great, I mean stupid…

 I’m really not sure what the point of the demo was.

11 Responses to “Teacher Sets Fire to Himself”

  1. Unstable Isotope Says:

    He didn’t even talk. I think he was just trying to show a cool magic trick.

  2. Arash Says:

    I’m so sick of fire and explosion demonstration for chemistry. That is completely not what chemistry is about. We spend all our time in lab to make sure we don’t have fires and explosions. So why is that what we are teaching kids. It’s stupid and we should all stop it.

  3. Anonymous Says:


    I think explosive demonstrations have a time and a purpose. They’re flashy, dramatic and exciting. They inspire interest in many young people which can lead them to further investigation in the broader subject. It also illustrates the awesome power of chemistry and hopefully, therefore also inspires an appreciation for the need to take safety precautions.

    Many of the more exciting looking reactions can also be used to illustrate exo- and endothermic reactions, allowing students to feel a cooling beaker and then watch two components erupt is a pretty attention-grabbing example of energy being moved about.

  4. Alan Says:

    Your point is well taken and I am sympathetic. But fire and explosions make a strong impression on the human brain (for obvious evolutionary reasons). I still remember very vividly the burning of Mg and Na/H2O demos from junior high school (decades ago). And as I learned chemistry over the years, many times I thought about them in a serious way. The reaction of Na in particular, which is such an archetype – it’s so much better to have that embedded in the brain visually, rather than only an equation on paper. That said, there should be a strong connection between the visual and the conceptual, which I suspect was missing from the clown show in this video.

  5. Arash Says:

    Obviously fire and explosion do make an impression. But in my opinion its not the right message and I’m no sure it really gets them excited about chemistry. It will excite them about making fires for sure. I think as a community we should try and come up with some new methods that can excite students (visually or not) about chemistry and at the same time showing how important it is.

    We’ve been teaching chemistry the same way we tough it almost 40-50 years ago. There has been no major changes in the education of chemistry in high school or college. Yet the field has changed so much and we know so much more. Probably part of the reason the general public doesn’t understand chemistry and blames us for everything. We have communicated very badly and that start with our education to students.

  6. Rev. Cherrycoke Says:

    i agree with arash. explosive demonstrations are moronic and deceptive. any kid that decides chemistry is cool when he sees a hydrogen balloon explode or a frozen rose shatter will only be hugely disappointed as he sits in front of some dull piece of equipment years later performing some dry experiment for the 100th time

    when you drive kids away from science, everyone wins. higher salaries for your future chemist, and your future-non-chemist is spared the misery of being a chemist

  7. RB Woodweird Says:

    I agree that explosions as demonstrations are sophomoric, but then again it was probably sophomore year at MIT when the professor had the graduate student bring on stage one of those big Pyrex desiccators holding a glass syringe filled with a toluene solution of aluminum hydride. The professor took the syringe out and squirted the contents in a huge flaming arc across the stage. I am not sure what the point of that was but it was unforgettable.

  8. Frankenstein's Monster Says:

    Fire bad!

  9. Troggy Says:

    Quoting Arash:
    “I think as a community we should try and come up with some new methods that can excite students (visually or not) about chemistry and at the same time showing how important it is.”

    1) Do you have any potential ideas? I think we all need potential ideas for science outreach we are involved in.

    2) There are some great ideas that people are using or discussing in demonstrations that are based in “energetic” demonstrations. For example, I have seen a couple demonstrations using a fuel-cell powered car. And guess how it started, with H2-balloon explosions. Do you see where I am going with this?

    Alkali metals and water -> how do you think Li-ion batteries work? (sure it’s not water, but the concept can be built from there.

    Energy is a huge concern in modern life, probably second only to health in developed nations. Yet it is something people remain woefully ignorant of, even at surprisingly high levels of policy decisions. I think it is no great surprise that demonstrations tend to relate.

    I think lots of these of these old demonstrations existed for a reason. I think the metric for deciding if a demonstration is useful is very simple: Can it help students/audiences relate to a concept or idea which is needed for an understanding of the modern science?

    Yeah, a lot of demonstrations are dumb and arguably misused (i.e “magic tricks”. Science educators need to be aware of their role and actually provide helpful information. But, at the same time, there is nothing worse than performing an arcane and boring demonstration in front of dozens or hundreds of people, especially if it is difficult to see because it’s subtle (“Now, if you observe closely”).


  10. asdasddass Says:

    Hey Arash, try getting kids interested in science with cabbage indicator and NMR theory. Not going to happen.

    And besides, some research groups deal with explosives.

  11. finances Says:

    There has been no major changes in the education of chemistry in high school or college.

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