I love science. It provokes a sense of awe and wonder in me that is often not prevalent in my day-to-day life. Seeing the intricacies of Creation and – better yet – understanding something about them gives me a thrilling feeling.
I’m very grateful to the teachers who have demonstrated the finer points of physics, chemistry and biology to me over the years. So it’s with a sense of frustration that I watched this movie from the Training and Development Agency for Schools. It shows a really cool chemistry experiment called Screaming jelly babies in which a (poor unfortunate) jelly baby is dropped into a test-tube of hot potassium chlorate. The sugar in the jelly is, um, “rapidly oxidised” which is a scientific way of saying that it fizzes, burns, glows and smokes until there’s not a lot left. It’s a fantastic demonstration, but, hang on, what’s that the teacher says as he’s heating the test-tube?
…it’s getting really hot. Probably not just hundreds of degrees, but nearer thousands of degrees. The powder is starting to turn into a liquid…
Thousands of degrees? I don’t think so. The melting point of the potassium chlorate is 356 °C. The Bunsen burner flame itself tops out at about 1500 °C. Heck – if the temperature rose much above 800 °C, the borosilicate glass of the test-tube would start to melt!
The point I’m making is that if we hold teachers to high standards of accuracy, we should hold people who teach teachers to even higher standards.