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STEM Fair Tutorial #5: The Shores of Safety

For us at STEM Starter there is nothing more important than your safety during an experiment. Safety while conducting experiments should be just as natural as wearing a seat belt when riding in a car or looking both ways before crossing a street. To assist you, we offer the following safety suggestions. This information cannot cover all safety issues that may arise; so, this is where common sense and adult supervision is important. Listen to your adult supervisor and always choose the side of safety.

1. Do you have a responsible and attentive adult supervisor to assist you?

If not, do not do the experiment until a responsible and attentive adult is nearby to assist you.

2. Are there any distractions nearby, i.e. cell phone, television, etc.?

If there are any distractions nearby? Do not do the experiment until you are able to focus on the experiment. Turn of the TV, set your cell phone aside and offer your full attention to the work on the experiment. An emergency can arise very quickly and your full devotion to the work at hand is of paramount importance.

3. Have you reviewed all the safety precautions with an adult?

With every experiment there are basic safety precautions. Please, take a moment to review those precautions before you begin any experiment. If an adult isn't present or if you have not reviewed the experiment safety precautions, DO NOT complete the experiment! You must review all safety precautions with an adult.

4. Do you have all the safety equipment necessary to conduct the experiment? Some experiments may require safety equipment ranging from gloves and goggles, to a face mask and lab coat. Take these precautions seriously and never underestimate the value them. By demonstrating your ability to follow directions in small issues; you show a level of responsibility for larger issues. The saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," applies to safety precautions when conducting experiments. If do not have all of the safety equipment necessary - DO NOT do the experiment.

5. Did you note / review all the possible hazards associated with the experiment?

This question is asking you to be observant and take notice of possible hazards and fix them before they become disasters. Is there water on the floor? Wipe it up. Are obstacles blocking an exit? Move it. Are they flammable items near an flame? Move them. You should never proceed with an experiment until all possible hazards are addressed and fixed.

6. Do you know who to call in an emergency?

Knowing what to do in an emergency is imperative. Whether it is knowing the evacuation route out of a building; how to call 911, how to use a fire extinguisher or the location of a nearest eye wash station; you should be aware of how to conduct yourself in an emergency. If you do not know what to do in an emergency, take a moment to review your responsibilities with an adult before conducting an experiment.

7. Are you wearing the proper clothing for the experiment?

If not, do not do the experiment. Do not wear loose clothing, scarves, jewelry etc., when conducting an experiment. Make sure you are wearing close toed shoes particularly if you are outside or working with glass and chemicals.

8. Lastly, do you know where your nearest exit is and is your exit clear of any obstruction?

You must always know how to exit your home safely and quickly should you need to get help.

For additional safety guidelines, we included the Safety Rules developed by the Prairie Hills Elementary School District 144 in Markam, Illinois! As you all know - STEM Starter doesn't like reinventing the wheel – rather - we enjoy celebrating great work when we see it and this school district has developed a phenomenal Student Packet for a Science Fair Project and we just have to share it at:

If you cannot access the file; we included the rules that Prairie Hills Elementary School District 144 developed and they are applicable for your STEM Fair Project as well. Well done to that school district!

1. Number one rule. . . think safety first before you start. Make sure you have recruited your adults to help you.

2. Never eat or drink during an experiment and always keep your work area clean.

3. Wear protective goggles when doing any experiment that could lead to eye injury.

4. Do not touch, taste, or inhale chemicals or chemical solutions.

5. Respect all life forms. Animals are not allowed to be used in experiments. Do not performance experiment that will harm a person.

6. All experiments should be supervised by an adult.

7. Always wash your hands after doing the experiment, especially if you have been handling chemicals.

8. Dispose waste properly.

9. Any project that involves animals, drugs, firearms, or explosives are NOT permitted.

10. Any project that breaks district policy, and/or local, state, or federal laws are NOT permitted.

11. Use safety on the Internet! NEVER write to anyone without an adult knowing about it. Be sure to let an adult know about what websites you will be visiting or have them help you search.

12. If there are dangerous aspects of your experiment, like using a sharp tool or experimenting with electricity, please have an adult help you or have them do the dangerous parts. That is what adults are for so use them correctly. (Besides, it makes them feel important!)


Please make sure to note and include your safety precautions in your experiment; the judging rubric may require this information as a portion of your experiment.

Tonight's Homework & Materials List:


- Composition Notebook and pen.


- Entry #4: As an entry in your Lab Notebook, indicate some of the precautions and hazards you may have to take into consideration while completing STEM experiments in your home.

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