The Purpose of the Safety Sheet
This must be filled out so that the student, the teachers or qualified individuals supervising the student, and those that are reviewing the project know what dangers are associated with the project and that the proper precautions were taken.
Examples of Potential Hazards
- Hazardous Materials
- Alcohol Making
- Ultraviolet Rays
Different chemicals have different dangers (i.e. burns, poisonings, and irritation), so it is suggested that the person wear eye protection, dispose of chemicals properly, and work in the presence of a responsible chemist, who has extensive knowledge of chemicals and their effects.
Broken glass is sharp and can cause serious injuries, so it should be disposed of in correct containers. When possible, plastic labware is recommended.
These are materials that can explode, corrode, are flammable, or poisonous. Because of these dangers, it is suggested that there be adult supervision when using these materials to avoid injury.
Radiation used should cause no danger to the experimenter or the public. This is because some forms of radiation can lead to illness.
Anything that produces fire or can catch fire should be used with supervision to avoid injury to self, others, and avoid destruction of surroundings.
A permit is needed to be able to distill alcohol, and the distilling must be done in an approved location and not somewhere like a home. This is because there are laws against distilling alcohol, and the alcohol produced for the purpose of experiments is not the kind that should be drunk.
Lasers need to be registered and proper shelter should be made for the laser so that people cannot get near the laser when it is in use. Also, the laser should be disconnected from the power source when it is not in use. This is because improper use of lasers can lead to serious injury, such as blindness if the laser beam gets into a person’s eyes.
Proper shielding should be made around the UV source, and proper supervision should be used.
Any electrical equipment should be up to code, and should be shielded from people not involved in the experiment. This is because improper wiring can lead to serious injury from things like electrocution or can catch on fire.
Materials and equipment should be durable so as not to fall apart and cause injury to the experimenter, to those supervising, or to the general public. Parts that are power driven should be guarded to reduce the chance for injury to self or others.
Permission to use microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, protozoan, and molds) must be obtained to make sure that the student is not using a microorganism that can cause harm to self, to those assisting and supervising the project, or to the general public. Once permission is granted, microorganisms used must come from a respectable and certified supplier (i.e. Carolina Biological). Cultures cannot be taken from humans or warm-blooded animals, either directly (tissue from mouth, skin, etc.) or indirectly (countertops, utensils, etc. Sterile techniques should be used when working with microorganisms. Research on yeast or bread mold can be done at home; research with any other microorganisms should be done in a school laboratory with proper supervision. After the experiment is finished, the cultures must be destroyed by methods such as autoclaving or using a bleach solution before disposing of the cultures. These precautions are used to make sure that nothing dangerous is being used that could cause illness in the experimenter or supervising individuals doing the experiment. It is also to ensure that nothing dangerous is released into the environment that could cause illness to the public or animals, or harm the environment.
Sometimes in the Science Fair you may need to submit formal requests for specific test data. A few examples are listed below:
Request for Using Animals (includes vertebrate, non-vertebrate, human, and non-human)
These types of experiments are usually done to answer some scientific question, show some biological relationship that can be applied to humans, or fill some objectives.
These forms are used to ensure that the utmost respect for life and the most humane treatment are being used when dealing with vertebrates and invertebrates. This means that minimal, if any pain, should be felt by animals involved (i.e. no excessive pain caused while gathering tissue to be tested).
Request for Microorganisms
This is used when the microorganism the students want to use is not on the approved list. This is also used to ensure that the student is not using a microorganism that can pose a risk to themselves or others around them.
Approved List: Biosafety level 1 organisms are the only ones to be used because these organisms are not known to pose a risk or cause illness in healthy people.
This form is used to ensure that the project is being conducted in the presence of a qualified individual, such as a biomedical scientist. This is to ensure that something like a piece of DNA being introduced into the environment and leading to a drug-resistant strain of bacteria.
This is to ensure that any people that are being used as part of an experiment are not being subjected to excessive physical or psychological stress. It is also used to ensure that ethical behavior and legal guidelines are being followed (i.e. underage persons need consent from guardians to participate in studies; names should not be used to preserve anonymity).
So why is it that tissue, microorganisms, names of volunteers, or other potentially dangerous materials are not allowed to be displayed at the Science Fair?
The point of the display board and being at the Science Fair is to present the experiment that was done, what was found from the experiment, how it can be applied, and what further experiments could be done based on what was found. The board should display the information that those who have not done this experiment should know about what has been done. What is said when presenting the information on the board will let people know what has been done, what conclusions have come from the experiment, and what could be done in the future to either improve the project or answer another question.
If objects were brought to be displayed at the science fair, there is a chance that someone would bump into the objects and cause injury to themselves or others through chemical spills, broken glass, heavy objects falling, etc. There is also a chance that a microorganism could be released into the environment and cause illness in a non-healthy person.
Names of volunteers cannot be displayed on the board or in paperwork that accompanies the board because of the right to remain anonymous. The results of the experiment did not depend on the person’s name, unless the experiment was to show that having a certain name means the person is better at a certain task. Even with that type of experiment, no one needs to know that John or Jane Smith participated in the experiment; did it really matter that this certain person was in the experiment, when another person could have easily been the volunteer? Some people are happy to volunteer for a project, but do not want others to know that they participated; if others knew that the person participated, it may cause the person undue stress. In the case of minors, the parents gave the experimenter permission to allow their child to be a volunteer, not to let those viewing the project know that their child participated.
Why all the precautions
The main goal of doing an experiment is to obtain data that will answer a question, prove a relationship, etc. Sometimes to get the answer, some dangerous materials and methods need to be used. It should be ensured that a person is not injured unnecessarily when trying to find the answer. So precautions are taken so that the answer is obtained with minimal risk to those involved.
The person does not want to release a dangerous pathogen into the environment, make things unintentionally explode or catch fire, or do something dangerous that could cause injury, illness, or death.
All of these precautions and more can be found at: http://www.chicagostudentsciencefair.org. Click on “Handbook” for guidelines and more information.
Science Fair Disclaimer
The information on this website is being provided in summary fashion for informational purposes only, and warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances.Implementation of any Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate supervision. Further, although efforts have been made to identify and encourage safe practices and safe use of the materials in Project Ideas and to provide information related to such practices and use, safety is the sole responsibility of each individual user. This website and its content are provided as is, and all warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non- infringement are expressly disclaimed to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, IIT does not guarantee or make any representation regarding the use or accuracyof the website or its content. IIT assumes no responsibility for any use made of material published on this website, and IIT strongly urges all those planning to use information from this website to do so, including the development of procedures for safety, in accordance with local needs and situations. IN NO EVENT SHALL IIT BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOST DATA, LOST PROFITS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, REPLACEMENT SERVICE OR OTHER SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL,CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR INDIRECT DAMAGES, HOWEVER CAUSED AND REGARDLESS OF THEORY OF LIABILITY. USERS OF THIS WEBSITE RELEASE AND WAIVE ALL CLAIMSAGAINST IIT AND ITS DIRECTORS, TRUSTEES, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS AND REPRESENTATIVES, FROM ANY AND ALL CLAIMS, DAMAGES, LIABILITIES, COSTS AND EXPENSES ARISING OUT OF THE USER'S USE OF THE WEBSITE AND THE CONTENT