How Risky is Chocolate?
Dr Joanna Bates (Materials Science and Engineering), Claire Johnson (Materials Science and Engineering), Kerry McLaughlin (Materials Science and Engineering), Nadia Fernandes (Materials Science and Engineering), Stephen Mason (Materials Science and Engineering), Dr Julian Dean (Materials Science and Engineering)
What is this about?
Health and safety for undergraduate students is generally considered dull and boring, usually performed as a lecture on what you should and should not do. Understanding the importance of the risk and hazards in performing experiments and how to design methods to minimize them is essential for any scientist and is not a matter of knowledge but of critical thinking and planning. Here we show how we have developed and employed a hands-on experience of risk assessment using chocolate, liquid nitrogen and a mechanical test called a Charpy impact tester that allows us to measure the toughness of materials. This session runs successfully now as part of our first year cross faculty engineering laboratories (>700 students) with students filling in their own risk assessments for a potentially dangerous experiment, planning an experimental protocol and then using it to perform the experiment in the laboratory.
How will colleagues benefit?
Colleagues will benefit in a number of ways. Firstly, by the discussion within the conference of our staff and student experience of the session and what did and what did not work. Secondly, the problems we have faced and solved in running this session due to students’ various educational backgrounds, confidence and experience. We are also happy to provide our teaching materials that we use to run this session, including the introductory talk, laboratory script, marking guide, design specifications of the easy to make Charpy tester and our chocolate suppliers (a leading supermarket).