Why Are Hazmat Guys Teaching Science?

It must be a growing trend… or something in the hazardous materials industry is pushing people to teach science. I first met Todd Skoglund and Ken Rost (guys who are not exactly your typical classroom science teachers) at our Science in the Rockies training last summer. Acting as Educational Outreach Coordinators for SIGNET North America, both of these guys are great teachers, but they’re using their knowledge of real world chemistry and physics to help train firefighters and emergency responders to avoid common safety mistakes in the field. Whether it’s an overturned tanker carrying liquid nitrogen or a fire burning dangerously close to a building filled with chemicals, Todd and Ken put their science to use avoid disasters and save lives.

It was ironic to receive an e-mail from another hazardous materials response specialist working for the County of San Diego. Todd Burton has a passion for using science demonstrations to teach important safety concepts to emergency response teams… and they’re also finding time to share their expertise with students.

Hazmat Science

“We run into a lot of technical hazmat problems and use science in combination with new technology to solve our problems in the field,” writes Todd Burton. “I also teach fire fighters how to identify unknown spilled substances with the use of a Haz-Cat kit (Field chemistry kit). I have used some of your [Spangler’s] experiments in this field, too. I just wanted to say thanks for your great science videos on your website and that sharing knowledge is a good karma that extends far beyond your camera lenses on television to educate the young minds of school kids and public safety officials alike.”

It wasn’t that long ago that the field of “informal science education” was reserved for educators at science museums. These hazmat guys are a great example of informal teachers who are connecting great science concepts to real world applications. Nice job!

What are some other examples of informal science education going on in your community?

1 reply
  1. Todd Skoglund
    Todd Skoglund says:

    Thanks so much, Steve, for continuing to inspire teachers at ALL levels to share their and your passion for science and education! We’ll all continue to feed off of each other and share our learnings and ideas, making us all collectively better and more effective educators in all fields!


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