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How Safe Is Your Eyewash?

According to a recent article in Safety + Health magazine, Honeywell Safety Products had to recall about 9,700 bottles of Eyesaline emergency eyewash solution due to “a low risk of contamination” of bacteria that can cause eye infections (NSC 2016).

Science teachers need to see if they have this type of eyewash solution and also need to take care of the eyewash stations that have sat in their labs during the summer. Eyewash can mitigate eye injuries when there is exposure to physical and chemical irritants or biological agents.

An Infosheet by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration gives background information on the American National Standards Institute standard Z358.1-2014. The standard states that for plumbed systems, “the eyewash must deliver tepid flushing fluid (15.6–37.8°C or 60–100°F) to eyes not less than 1.5 liters per minute (0.4 gpm) for a minimum of 15 minutes” (OSHA 2015).

OSHA further notes, “Whether permanently connected to a potable water source (plumbed) or has self-contained flushing fluid, improper maintenance may present health hazards that can worsen or cause additional damage to a worker’s eye” (OSHA 2015).

If students or school employees use an eyewash that is not properly maintained, biological organisms can come in contact with the eye or skin, or may even be inhaled. Eyes also may be more susceptible to infection after being injured. Eyewashes not properly maintained may serve as a breeding ground for a host of organisms and present serious health hazards. OSHA mentions the following organisms as examples (OSHA 2015):

  • Acanthamoeba—a microscopic single cell organism (amoeba) that may cause eye infections.
  • Pseudomonas—infections typically caused by a common bacteria species.
  • Legionella—bacteria that may cause Legionnaires’ disease, a serious lung infection.

Teachers need to check manufacturer’s instructions regarding how often and how long the eyewash needs to be flushed to reduce or eliminate biological contaminants, which often require a once-a-week flushing regimen. To maintain self-contained eyewash units, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for appropriate procedures.

It is important to first try working with your school administration to address your safety concerns. If your concern is not addressed, you have a right, as an employee, to file a complaint, under which OSHA will conduct an on-site inspection for potential hazards and determine whether your employer is following OSHA rules (OSHA 2014, p. 11).

Teachers or union representatives can call OSHA with questions or additional information at 1-800-321-OSHA. However, many states operate their own OSHA-approved safety and health program. Visit OSHA’s website to determine if your workplace is under Federal OSHA, a state OSHA plan, or other individual state department.

Submit questions regarding safety in K–12 to Ken Roy at, or leave him a comment below. Follow Ken Roy on Twitter: @drroysafersci.


National Safety Council. 2016. Safety + Health. Honeywell Issues Voluntary Recall of Eyesaline Eyewash. August 23.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 2015. Health effects from contaminated water in eyewash stations.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 2014. Workers’ rights.

NSTA resources and safety issue papers

NSTA resources and safety issue papers


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Teaching about farms

With the fall harvest season coming up, planning begins for family and class fieldtrips to local farms and farm markets. People who live in farming communities have a much different understanding of what a farm can be than those who live in urban or suburban communities. The Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, Inc. explains why we should teach about agriculture: “Incorporating agriculture into teaching and learning creates the foundation that students, as future citizens, need to make educated decisions regarding food choices and nutrition, community issues, land use planning, and natural resource conservation.” 

Child and teacher work together to use an apple peeler simple machineGetting to know where our food comes from is the first step and teachers want to plan meaningful, accurate experiences so young children can become familiar with food sources. We have tastings of different apple varieties, children graph their favorite flavor, and we read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (Dragonfly Books 1996).  My children enjoy seeing live farm animals at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo where even the chickens have names. At Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm, which replicates a historical farm, the Pre-k to 1st grade program on Animal Life on the Farm introduces children to the milking cows and chickens. (There is a PreK-1 teachers’ guide, Animal Life on the Farm to help teach about the animals and that they provide us with milk, eggs, wool and meat.)

Heritage pig at Claude Moore Colonial FarmWe also visit the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Virginia, “a living history museum that portrays family life on a small, low-income farm just prior to the Revolutionary War” where they raise tobacco, wheat, rye, corn, apples and vegetables, and heritage breeds that represent animals that were present in Virginia in the late 18th century.  The children delight in seeing live cattle, hogs and geese. Many children get their first experience with live farm animals at these museum farms. 

If we don’t live near farms of any kind, we can reach out to those who do for help in designing curriculum about food sources. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) members have been answering one teacher’s request for help planning a social studies and science unit on farms for kindergarten students. The teacher’s planning began with activities such as, making homemade butter, milking a pretend cow, meeting and petting a real bunny, making a scarecrow, planting a vegetable garden, and meeting a real farmer. Continue reading …

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Transforming Science Education With New Tech Standards

Using Web Tools to Support Learning

Standards play an important role in developing a strong curriculum and preparing students for the future. Science teachers are currently adjusting their curriculum to meet the Next Generation Science Standards, but other standards can also help us as the line between science and other subjects blurs.

The ISTE standards
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students were originally published in 1998 under the name of the National Education Technology Standards. The standards emphasized technology as tools and required students to demonstrate proficiency with the tools.

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Ideas for a new mentor teacher

My principal asked me to be a mentor for a new science teacher. I received a checklist of high school policies to review, but how can I help him in other ways? – T., New Jersey

In my experience, a good mentor can be a role model, a good listener, a source of suggestions and resources, a critical friend, and a shoulder to cry on. New teachers are often overwhelmed, so it’s important to initially focus on a few essentials. Let him know that it’s okay to learn from mistakes (and we all make them).

You’ll want to be helpful, but not overbearing. For example, as a beginning teacher I struggled with classroom management and how to deal with difficult students. (I came to realize that the two were connected—establishing expectations and routines provided a structure that many students needed.). We did not have a formal mentoring program, but another teacher took me under her wing. One day, she mentioned she was having problems with students X and Y. I also had these students, and she asked if I had any suggestions. I was astounded! She (a legend in the community) was asking me for advice! Whether she really needed my advice or not, her approach made me feel like a colleague, not just a rookie. I also realized that veteran teachers also have challenges and student misbehavior was not necessarily a personal attack.

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Science Teachers “Speak Up” About Technology in the Classroom


Science teachers are savvy users of instructional technology. They use a multitude of digital resources to help students explore and learn, to differentiate instruction, support collaborative classroom projects, and develop formative assessments. Science teachers also use technology (a lot) and rely on the Internet and webinars to help them increase their content knowledge, prepare for a lesson, or share ideas with others.

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Focus on Physics: When Our Round Earth Was First Measured

Building an Understanding of Physical Principles

Our Earth is round, although it was not always thought to be that way. It looks flat. But if the Earth is viewed from a tall building, especially near the ocean when the horizon is clear, its curvature can be seen with the naked eye. This is helped with the aid of a straightedge held

Figure 1. From a high elevation, a straightedge held at arm’s length shows that the horizon is not quite level but curved.

Figure 1. From a high elevation, a straightedge held at arm’s length shows that the horizon is not quite level but curved.

at arm’s length aligned with the horizon (Figure 1), a popular activity of residents of tall high-rises near the seashore. 

Eratosthenes’ observations
The first person credited with measuring the roundness of Earth was the Greek scholar and geographer Eratosthenes of Cyrene in 235 BC. This man of learning was the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. Just as the Sun and Moon are round, Eratosthenes assumed Earth was also round. He proceeded to measure “how round” and more.

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NSTA’s K-College September 2016 Science Education Journals Online

September 2016 Journals

Want to know how to maximize the products your elementary students make? What about getting fresh ideas for your middle school classroom? Looking for ideas on how to help your high school students understand the natural world through the construction of scientific models? Want to engage college students in meaningful outdoor learning experiences? The September K–College journals from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have the answers you need. Written by science teachers for science teachers, these peer-reviewed journals are targeted to your teaching level and are packed with lesson plans, expert advice, and ideas for using whatever time/space you have available. Browse the September issues; they are online (see below), in members’ mailboxes, and ready to inspire teachers.

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Teens Flock to Science Cafés

Science cafés—events held in casual, social venues where attendees can listen to and interact with scientists—have become common worldwide. Many U.S. science cafés are modeled after Café Scientifique, a United Kingdom–based grassroots network of science cafés organized by Duncan Dallas in 1998. When Michelle Hall and Michael Mayhew heard Dallas speak about Café Scientifique at a 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, they wondered if the same model could provide “a way to have high school students challenge themselves about what they believe [about science] and why, and how science and technology are changing their lives,” says Hall, a geophysicist, science educator, and president and chief executive officer of Science Education Solutions, a research and development company in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

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Dept. of Ed Releases Proposed Rules on Title I Spending

LegislativeUpdateChangeTheTextEachTimeAndTheDateV3 Sept1

On August 31 the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released proposed regulations to implement the supplement-not-supplant requirement in Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The rules were quickly denounced by top Republicans and will likely set the stage for a battle over implementing the new federal education law in the waning days of the Obama administration.

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7 Sessions for Connecting Elementary Science + Literacy

7 Sessions for Connecting Elementary Science + Literacy

The upcoming NSTA Minneapolis conference, taking place October 27-29, will have a number of sessions dedicated to celebrating elementary science and literacy connections. Children are born investigators. Science is an engaging way to develop students’ skills in thinking creatively, expressing themselves, and investigating their world. Reading, writing, and speaking are inspired through science experiences. Educators attending these sessions will gain confidence in teaching science, learn strategies for literacy and science integration, and celebrate elementary science. The 7 sessions are just a sample of what #NSTA16 attendees can expect. 

Native Plants and Seeds, Oh My! (Thursday, October 27 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM)

  • Cultivate new learning with a unit developed for upper elementary students that embeds reading and writing with a study of botany featuring native seeds and plants.

Developing and Implementing NGSS-Focused Curriculum in Gillette, WY: Strategies and Tools for Elementary Science and Literacy Integration (Thursday, October 27 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM) Continue reading …

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