I worked in an organic chemistry lab in the Pharmaceutical industry for 20 years before becoming a high school chemistry/ICP teacher. I love being in the lab and would love to share that with my students. My students come to me with a variety of lab experiences and almost all of them include food at some point-making ice cream, fudge, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sugar/salt crystals, etc.
Students have the impression that eating in lab is no big deal. As a professional lab chemist, if I was caught eating in lab, it WOULD be a big deal. I would have been escorted to the door, my things sent home and I would be seeking new employment. My employer did not need that liability. As a teacher, I REALLY don't need that liability and I want my students to be safe! I inherited a room that has been used for biology and chemistry. Lab spaces like these have long memories – there are chemicals that have terrific staying power like mercury, for example. These chemicals may be invisible, but they are still present. My classroom is attached to my lab space, so I do not allow my students to eat in my classroom, either. I tell them they can make it 48 min. without a lollipop, a lifesaver, a hamburger, a new stick of gum.
All the teaching organizations of which I am or was a member (NSTA, ACS, HASTI) say the same things about food in lab ("DON'T DO IT!") – and that is why I created this WebQuest. I want the students to hear it from me AND to see that I am not alone in my desire to keep them safe from ingesting chemicals they cannot see that may be harmful to them.
I recommend actually Googling “eating in lab” before you hand this to the students so you are familiar with the hits your students might encounter. Occasionally you will see student projects related to lab safety, which I allow to be cited and summarized (after previewing it…).
You can extend this type of assignment to include posters, Prezis, Powerpoints, etc. if you would like to stress this concept.
PS – I particularly enjoy an article by Ken Roy titled “Eating in the lab: A recipe for disaster” from Science Scope, 2014. If it is not one of the first ten hits, you can add it…