Letter - More reflections of a Wa-Hi science teacher

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I plead with you to pass the bond to build a new Walla Walla High School science building. I bring a science teacher’s perspective to the “physics of the facilities.”

The Wa-Hi science facilities are antiquated, decrepit and downright dangerous for teachers and students. The ventilation system is physically lacking.

Case in point is my photosynthesis lab. I worked hard to set up “hands-on” experiments whereby students experimented with a lab partner. I remember setting up a 16-station photosynthesis lab. I designed it so 32 students worked in groups of two. Students were to boil white and green coleus leaves in alcohol.

I set up 16 stations with double beakers; water in the lower beaker while the upper beaker held the coleus leaves and alcohol. Each of the 16 stations used its own Bunsen burner. It was September and very hot outside. I turned on the small ceiling ventilation fans, propped open the classroom door, and opened the small classroom windows.

I turned on a stand-alone floor fan. I had biology students coming in every 50 minutes to do the photosynthesis lab. The temperature in the room rose to almost 100 degrees.

The biology students successfully detected that only the green part of the coleus leaf contained chlorophyll when they tested the boiled leaves with iodine. They proved a positive test for starch.

They also proved the inadequacies of the physical setting.

I learned the small ventilation fans in the ceiling vented directly into the attic! They did not vent outside when they were originally constructed as should have been code.

Chemical fumes were building up in the room.

During the last biology class’s experiment I got a reeling headache that had been developing over the day. When students were dismissed to go home my headache worsened. I became nauseous and began vomiting into the teacher-demo lab’s sink. Then I had to lie down on the floor for over 20 minutes.

I believe the inadequate ventilation caused my condition.

Never again did I trust that science room. And I felt guilty for endangering students’ health.

In summary, the ventilation in the science rooms is inadequate or lacking.

Teachers are confined to doing teacher demos. Teachers must minimize hands-on lab experiences for students because of the poor science facilities.

From experience, I can attest to the danger of chemical fumes due to inadequate ventilation.

I plead with you to vote for the bond to replace the Wa-Hi science building. A brand new building is necessary.

Pamela McBride

Walla Walla

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