Things That Matter

This 13-Year-Old Boy’s Face Caught On Fire During A Science Class Demonstration

As a kid, one of the most exciting parts of science class is observing how certain chemicals react with each other—seeing how all the abstract information you’ve learned on paper manifests in real life. Of course, every school science lab is supposed to have an eye-wash station, a shower, a fire extinguisher, and other such safety tools in case something goes awry, and while accidents do happen, it is imperative that science demonstrations in the classroom be handled with extreme care. Although no hard evidence currently exists on how often school lab accidents occur—as no entity tracks them as a distinct category—scores of preventable incidents are reported every year.

Most recently, the case of 13-year-old Priest Rivera has been making headlines.

Credit: Instagram | CBSNews8

Rivera’s face and upper body were severely burned when his teacher mistakenly botched a science demonstration in June 2019, and his family has filed a lawsuit against San Diego’s Encinitas Union School District.

Last June, sixth-grade teacher Lori Feinberg fumbled a seemingly simple science demonstration called the “black snake experiment.” This experiment involves the mixing of baking soda, sugar, sand, and alcohol, which is then introduced to a flame in order to form of a “sugar snake.” (When the mixture of baking soda and sugar gets hot, it decomposes to create carbon dioxide gas. A lack of oxygen in the sugar from the combustion creates carbonate and water vapor; the carbonate is pushed out by the pressure from the carbon dioxide, and voila! A snake is born.)

“It wasn’t really working and the science teacher kept pouring more rubbing alcohol to make the flame build up more. It went wrong and blew up in my face,” Priest told CBS News 8. He explained that he had ignited, and his friends surrounded him saying, “He’s on fire!”

The lawsuit filed on December 30, 2019, claims that Feinberg “recklessly” performed the “dangerous” science experiment which involved alcohol and flames “in windy conditions.” It also alleges that Feinberg provided her students with neither safety instructions nor protective equipment (like safety glasses) before performing the “black snake” experiment. The complaint also cites “severe and permanent injuries to Priest,” alleging both negligence and negligent action and stating that “Feinberg and the District knew it was highly probable that injury could occur when conducting an experiment involving flames, but knowingly disregarded that risk.” The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for Priest’s present and future hospital bills.

Although, as mentioned above, no hard numbers currently exist to verify the frequency of school lab accidents, the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Health and Safety is seeking out “reliable data.”

Credit: Facebook | John M. Mantel / Daily Mail

According to Scientific American, “surveys find incidents to be much more common in academic settings than in industrial labs”—and if university labs are seeing high numbers of injury and death, imagine how much less prepared public elementary, middle, and high school labs are likely to be.

Indeed, another student victim of a science experiment gone wrong was awarded $59.1 in damages from the New York Department of Education last July. Alonzo Yanes and classmate Julia Saltonstall were left with severe burns after a botched demonstration by a high school teacher in 2014. Science teacher Anna Poole attempted to conduct a “Rainbow Experiment,” a popular staple in high school chemistry classes due to its rapid and intense bursts of flame.

The Rainbow Experiment involves a variety of mineral salts and lit candles, usually placed in a line. An accelerant commonly used in the experiment is methanol, an extremely volatile liquid that shows how different salts produce distinct colors when burned. However, methanol also produces vapor clouds that can quickly spread flames (or, conversely, which can linger and be ignited by unwitting sparks later on). It was this substance that Poole used in her demonstration, pouring it out of a gallon-sized jug instead of a safer, smaller container.

Students said that she had only reached the second dish when a massive flame spread down the line of dishes and enveloped Yanes in flames, ultimately burning 30% of his body. Students also remarked that Poole was the only one in the room wearing safety goggles.

Rivera’s parents have addressed the school’s reticence to claim responsibility for what happened to their son, and the consensus within the scientific community is a similar one: almost all such incidents are preventable by improving oversight and supervision. They are not simply the consequence of random misfortune.

According to chemical safety expert Neal Langerman, “The problem of school lab danger lies in management responsibility.” With proper training, appropriate safety measures (like wearing protective clothing), and regular procedural oversight, accidents like those that have affected countless young students (as well as teachers) all over the country can be avoided in the future.

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Ben Affleck & Marc Anthony Spoke Frankly About J.LO And My Nostalgic Aughts-Self Is Giving A Toast

Entertainment

Ben Affleck & Marc Anthony Spoke Frankly About J.LO And My Nostalgic Aughts-Self Is Giving A Toast

Sony Pictures

No doubt, as the Latina Queen of Hollywood, Jennifer Lopez has played the better half of quite a few relationships and not just on-screen. From Diddy, formerly known as Puff Daddy and P Diddy, to Casper Smart Lopez has been The Strong Woman behind some pretty well-known men.

Her exes Marc Anthony (whom J.L o shares twins Emme and Max, 13 with) and Ben Affleck know it, and in a recent interview, they opened up about what they really think of her.

For her recent May cover of InStyle magazine, Lopez’s feature story included insights from her former loves Anthony and Affleck on everything from her drive to her ageless beauty.

In honor of the singer and actor’s 30-year run in the entertainment industry, the magazine featured her and her most prolific exes. For the interview, both Anthony and Affleck commented on Lopez’s character, heart, and business savvy. “The thing about Jennifer is her ability to see and understand things before they happen,” Anthony, explained in his interview.

Anthony, a singer and actor who starred in the 2001 film In the Time of the Butterflies was married to Lopez from 2004 to 2014.

“Before she even brings an idea up, she has visualized it a thousand times. And if anyone says it might not be the greatest idea, she’ll say, ‘You just don’t see it yet.’ Nine times out of 10, she’ll nail it. She’s the first one in the room and the last to leave. The hardest worker I’ve ever met,” Anthony went onto share. “When we were together, it was quite the opposite for me. That has changed since. I learned so much from her. She’s the original!”

Affleck who dated J.LO in 2002 and starred alongside her in the films “Gigli” and “Jersey Girl” also spoke openly about Lopez.

“I thought I had a good work ethic, but I was completely humbled and blown away by what she was committed to doing day in and day out, the seriousness in which she took her work, the quiet and dedicated way she went about accomplishing her goals, and then how she would go back and redouble her efforts,” Affleck, whose romance with Lopez earned him the other part of the nickname “Bennifer” by the media, explained.

“She remains, to this day, the hardest-working person I’ve come across in this business,” he revealed, “She has great talent, but she has also worked very hard for her success, and I’m so happy for her that she seems, at long last, to be getting the credit she deserves.”

At one point Affleck commented, relatably, that he felt J.Lo appeared as if she hadn’t aged since they dated.

“Where are you keeping the fountain of youth? Why do you look the same as you did in 2003 and it kind of looks like I’m in my 40s…at best?” he joked.

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Amanda Gorman’s Mom Helping Her Do Her Hair For Her Vogue Cover Is The Sweetest Thing Ever

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Amanda Gorman’s Mom Helping Her Do Her Hair For Her Vogue Cover Is The Sweetest Thing Ever

Pool / Getty

After captivating the world with her performance at the 2021 presidential inauguration, Amanda Gorman has continue to be praised. She was featured in Time Magazines’s Black Renaissance issue, named one of People’s Women Changing the World, and her outfit was copied by a little boy.

Now, she’s gracing the cover of Vogue.

In a series shot by Annie Leibovitz, Gorman wore shoulder-length Senegalese twists.

In a post shared to her Instagram page, Gorman celebrated the new cover by thanking her Vogue beauty team, which included her own mom. “Special thanks to my mom who helped with hair on-set,” she said in her caption.

There’s no denying that the poet Amanda Gorman is a trendsetter. As the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, she stunned the world with her words, grace, poise, and style during the inauguration. Amongst the millions watching her, one little boy, in particular, was paying attention.

Jeremy Rowan, 7, had a chance to dress as his idol for his school’s Spirit Day and picked Gorman as his inspiration.

In an interview with TODAY Parents, Jeremy’s mom, Kimberly Rowan explained that “He really looks up to Amanda — she is such a strong youth leader and role model.” Kimberly shared the image of her son to Twitter with a caption that explained “This little guy chose to dress as Amanda Gorman for “Dress as Your Idol” day at (remote) school. Thank you @TheAmandaGorman for inspiring all of our children to change the world!”

“He said he was dressing as Amanda since he was really enjoying reading her biography and writing a report about her life and poetry,” Kimberly Rowan explained to TODAY Parents. “And when it came to finding the outfit, he knew right where to look: in his closet, the costume box and beyond. He had a blast coming up with the costume.”

Jeremy wore a red microfiber cloth pinned to his hair to copy Gorman’s red headband. He also wore a puffy yellow jacket and wrote about Gorman for his writing class’s biography project. For the assignment, he researched Gorman and wrote his own version of her life story.

His tribute ultimately caught the eye of Gorman.

According to Jeremy’s mother Amanda “replied, writing that she wanted to dress as him for her idol… I was floored.” Gorman also reached out to Jeremy’s mother and asked if she could post the story and photo on social media in honor of World Poetry Day on March 21.

“We were honored, and are still stunned really, by this reaction,” Rowan went onto share. “Then she sent us a beautiful video telling Jeremy how great his photo was. It is really such a special moment for him and I know it will shape who he becomes… The love from Amanda and the world has reaffirmed his choice in dressing as her. I believe this will allow him to continue to make bold choices in the future without the fear that others may react negatively.”

Speaking about Jeremy, Rowan shared that what he liked the most about Amanda Gorman was her use of hands.

“He has said she recites her poetry like it’s a song and uses her hands like she is translating it into sign language,” Rowan explained. “In the conclusion of his biography he wrote, ‘I learned that Amanda Gorman is incredible because she knows that poetry is like using your words (to express your feelings and emotions).'”

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