Two New York City high school students suffered burns when a popular chemistry experiment sent a plume of fire across the science lab, leaving one 16-year-old in critical condition, The New York Times reports. The accident occurred less than a month after a federal safety agency produced a video message for educators warning of the dangers of the demonstration.
A Beacon High School teacher was performing the so-called “rainbow experiment,” which shows how different salts produce different colored flames when burned. In front of 30 students, she used methanol as an accelerant, and the experiment exploded. The two closest students were engulfed in flames.
An investigator with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board told The Times that there have been at least seven similar incidents.
A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 2014 edition of Education Week as Popular Science Experiment Results in Student Injuries