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The laws of the lab.

Nothing beats rolling up your sleeves and actually doing science. That's why labs are so cool. Time whizzes by as you gaze through a microscope at living protozoa, examine the crystals in a chunk of volcanic rock, or build your own battery. No wonder you're so anxious to get started!

But slow down. The lab can be a pretty perilous place if you don't know what you're doing.

To find out if you do, take the first-ever, action-packed, totally thrilling SW lab-safety quiz! Just choose the best response for each of the questions below. Then score your answers (page 19) to see if you're ready for live lab action.

1. The big day is finally here--the first lab of the year--and you're trying to pick just the right outfit for the occasion. What do you wear?

a. An extra-extra-large Florida Marlins baseball shirt, baggy pants, and the flip-flops you bought over the summer.

b. Jeans, a regular T-shirt, sneakers, and safety goggles.

c. Camouflage.

2. Class has started; everybody else is getting busy with the lab. You, on the other hand, are still unsure of what to do. So you . . .

a. Reread the directions, and then ask your teacher for help.

b. Fake it. After all, you once figured out how to make beef-and-bean burritos without a recipe.

c. Ask a friend for assistance.

3. Yikes! What's that bizarre-looking fuzz growing in your petri dish? To find out, you . . .

a. Remove the lid and take a whiff.

b. Rub it between your fingers.

c. Take a sample to examine with the microscope, keeping the dish covered whenever possible.

4. You've lost track of what's in that beaker--water of hydrochloric acid. Now what do you do?

a. Put your nose over the beaker and smell the contents.

b. Drink some.

c. Use litmus paper to identify the acid, and then label the beaker.

5. The liquid in that test tube is taking forever to boil. So you . . .

a. Cork the top to speed things up.

b. Chill out and wait.

c. Crank up the gas as high as it will go.

6. It's time to take that beaker off the burner. How can you tell if it's too hot to handle?

a. Pick it up with your bare hands.

b. Douse it with ice water to see if it shatters.

c. Hold the back of your hand near it to feel for heat.

7. You sure can work up an appetite examining sedimentary rocks! What to do about that case of the munchies?

a. Nibble a cookie while you work.

b. Show some willpower: Hang on until lunch.

c. Make a mad dash for the cafeteria.

8. You didn't realize that battery was leaky until you picked it up. Now your fingers are starting to sting. What to do?

a. Rinse your hands with cold water, and tell your teacher that you're hurt.

b. Ask a friend to perform CPR.

c. Bandage it.

9. Cool! Your earthworm has a deformed digestive tube. So you . . .

a. Ask permission to present your findings to the class.

b. Perform corrective surgery.

c. Grab your worm and rush over to show everybody.

10. Uh-oh, you spilled! Now what?

a. Dip your finger into the liquid, and then rub your finger in your lab partner's ear.

b. Clean up the spill before your teacher finds out. (You want a good grade, don't you?)

c. Ask your teacher for help immediately.


Congratulations! You've successfully (and safely) completed the lab. Now you want to follow up with more experiments. What do you do?

a. Go home and mix together a bunch of chemicals in your garage.

b. Ask your teacher to help you design additional experiments.

c. Apply for a job at the Du Pont chemical company.
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Title Annotation:Lab Safety
Author:Plaut, Josh
Publication:Science World
Date:Sep 3, 1993
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