Students recount their worst lab accidents

Zoe Deno
Staff Writer

PHOTO BY ZOE DENO | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

Many classes at Hudson Valley require time in labs, which can help students prepare for work in their fields. While labs at Hudson Valley are more controlled than if students were working on their own, there is still lots of room for things to go wrong.

“My worst lab experience was when I dropped a poisonous substance in the sink,” Mercedes Barns, a digital media major said. She said she was taking general chemistry and health sciences as her science elective and explained she was not used to working with chemicals.

“I accidently spilled a lot of it,” Barns said. “My professor saw it and starts freaking out because some of it was in the sink.”

Barns’ professor had said that the students should tell her if they spilled something, but had failed to mention the substance was poisonous. Barns said that after getting as much of the chemical out of the sink as her professor could, her professor did not call anyone.

General chemistry labs are often student’s first experiences dealing with chemicals and dangerous equipment. Enoch Ortiz, a forensic science major, said he remembered how some students almost set the science building on fire.

One of the lab groups in his class were struggling to figure out how a Bunsen Burner– a small adjustable gas burner worked.

“The students had correctly hooked the hose to the gas line, but the had the air valve completely closed off,” said Ortiz. “They turned on the all-the way oxygen instead. The teacher came over and told them they had to open the valve. He did not notice that they had the oxygen on and a huge flame erupted from the burner.”

Faith Gilbert, a forensic science major, said she also had an unfortunate experience in general chemistry.

“I don’t remember the specifics, but each of the students got a bucket that was either room temperature water, warm water or ice water. I got ice water. You had to stick your hand in the water to fill up a tube,” Gilbert said.

When she stuck her hand under the water to fill the tube, she found hers was not working. She later found out that the stopper was broken.

“My instructor was convinced it was my fault and I kept trying to get it to work, my hand was so cold,” Gilbert said.

Not all students have had bad experiences in lab. Biological science major, Josh Whitehead has never had an issue in any of his labs. “My professors have always been really good at labs and keeping them organized,” Whitehead said.

“Even if you break equipment they do not get mad at you. Just today someone broke a graduated cylinder and my professor just filled out the paperwork to buy another one. They made it really easy to feel comfortable in the lab setting,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead said he feels the relaxed environment has helped him to avoid making mistakes. “No one needs to be nervous about screwing something up which really allows us to focus on our labs,” he said.

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