THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Eight students suffered minor injuries during a “fire without matches” science fun demo at an exhibition at the NSS College at Dhanuvachapuram, near Parassala, on Tuesday. Of them, four students from the Government High School were hospitalized with burns.
Roshan, Lijeesh, Anu Abraham and Krishna Varun, all aged 10, studying in the fifth standard, were watching the fire trick, organised by students and faculty of the college chemistry department when the mishap occurred. The students were admitted to SAT Hospital with “10 percent burns”.
Sources said the mishap occurred possibly from the addition of an overdose of sulphuric acid to potassium permanganate crystals contained in a jar. Chemistry students under the supervision of their teachers were demonstrating the flammable property of the two compounds as they come into contact in an open jar.
The injured students were immediately rushed to hospital. Four other students, of the NSS College, suffered minor rashes. “Burns are not severe but the students will have to remain in hospital for three to four days to prevent the spread of infection from wounds”, said medical college media coordinator Prasanna Kumar, quoting doctors.
When contacted, the NSS College principal, Dr K. Mohan Kumar, told DC that he was “sad that the science with fun experiment caused a flutter, injuring and inconveniencing the students. Will be more careful”. He was “greatly relieved” that the students escaped with minor injuries. This was least expected because different departments at the college regularly organised science exhibitions to educate students on everyday science, said Dr Kumar.
But Prof C. Mohan Kumar, who retired from chemistry department at CET, said the incident once again showed the potential for danger when such experiments are handled by inexperienced hands and were therefore better avoided at exhibitions.
“The chemical reaction involves oxidation and could slip out of hand. Care is taken to keep potassium permanganate crystals in a jar, partially immersed in cold water to get controlled ignition”, said Prof Kumar....