Saturday, November 1, 2008

Putting out fires

A couple of weeks ago, I literally put out four fires while teaching lab. It was ridiculous--I don't know when the last time was when I had to extinguish something like that, let alone four times in one three hour block.

Most of the students' reaction to their sample catching fire was "deer in the headlights"--watch it burn and not do anything. Which meant I had to run from across the room to put it out.

So the next day in lab, I asked the students (a different group) what to do if their stuff caught fire, and their answer was "run". Not the answer I was looking for... The next answer was the fire extinguisher, and my answer was, only if you want to be cleaning the lab for another three hours.

So what do you do when stuff catches fire?

My answer was a 600 mL beaker turned upside down. As long as the fire fits inside it, all you have to do is turn it over, on top of the flame, and the fire goes out. It runs out of oxygen and extinguishes itself.

If THAT doesn't work, then the fire extinguisher...and if that doesn't work, then exit the building.

That made me think...are there "fires" in my life that I'm just staring at, instead of snuffing? Or are there "spirit fires" I'm quenching when I should be feeding?

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