I need help

David Lawton dhlawton at clara.co.uk
Sun Mar 19 10:52:20 EST 2000

The point is that there is a justifiable health and safety concern.
This would be potentially hazardous for anybody with no knowledge or experience of bacteriology 
and with seemingly little supervision.

In our lab, we have been having 16 yr. olds visiting our labs for a number of years, if fact
when I was 16 (a long time ago) taking A - level biology, I toured the lab and now I work there.
We have also been paying a local technology centre to host an annual microbiology exhibition to which
most of the local schools send parties.

The person we should be having this discussion with is Riffi's teacher.

David Lawton
  "Bryan" <dbd2 at psu.edu> wrote in message news:38D4E24C.C213FDF9 at psu.edu...
  Dear Dilworth: 
  I looked back at your previous post and cannot see where you would have thought that my response pertained to you.  I was expressely responding to this: 

I find this sort of question frightening -
the idea of some ignorant kid mucking around with bacteria in their
bedroom appalls me.
  I don't think I'd want to be reading this if I were some curious student.  And it is my contention that this is not what this group is about. 
  While it can be assumed that a high school teacher lacks the know-how to follow up on this project, I think what Riffi was looking for was constructive advice not commentary on how dangerously impossible this all was.  I don't want to discourage him/her even though a certain amount of caution is warranted (see my original post).  I believe that depending on our experience, the caution with which we would approach growing cultures could differ; those working in path. labs more cautious than a microbial ecologist perhaps, but I was seeing but a few folks offering complete, sound advice. 

  If I do have a problem with your advice, it would be the following: 

While I think the teachers' intentions are good, it's obvious that the teachers
themselves have no clue what microbiologists deal with in the "real world" i.e.
specimen growth, pathogenicity, and disposal problems.

  This, I think, is not necessarily a given:  I have trained many high school teachers in microbiology with the express advice that if they do not have the infrastructure to deal with pathogens and waste, the persuit of things microbial  should be done in concert with those having proper lab settings. 

  Ultimately, there will be observers on this group that find the project in question impossible:  to go from no knowledge to saying something about the bugs that grew on a plate.  In a sense this is true; it will not get into the lit!!!  But can someone guide Riffi to or through a project that would be meaningful at the given level of education.  My biggest fear is that we propagate the idea most folks have about bacteria as just agents of disease.  I suppose I deserve the "tit for tat" calling folks ignoramous' or voodoo priests; e.g., "where the hell do I come up with such nonsense..."  But can you imagine for moment my frustration with the style of cautions people seemed to be giving Riffi?  Please take a look at this thread again...I for one saw too little information and a lot of "enough rope to hang yourself with" advice and way too much discouraging discourse. 

  I think we can do more than "you'll shoot your eye out" 



  Dilworth wrote: 

    Excuse me Bryan - it's late at night and I'm NOT an ignoramus.  I'm glad he's 
    pursuing his interest.  It's just NOT something you want to be doing in the kitchen, 
    bedroom, or basement without some safeguards, that's all.  At my last job, we had 
    just started "mentoring" a high school student (junior or senior) in microbiology. 
    She was coming in twice a week to observe and learn.  It was a great opportunity 
    that I wish I had had when I had been in high school.  The very first thing our lab 
    required was her to attend safety training.  She couldn't even come into the lab 
    before attending this due to liability issues (we were a private regional reference 
    laboratory).  We were giving her the overview we would give any med tech student; 
    the difference was that a med tech student had four years of college courses under 
    his/her belt first.  She was very interested, but was, after only a couple of weeks, 
    finding it very overwhelming without the proper foundation. 
    It's not about "protecting some knowledge base" or losing my power, or being a 
    voodoo priest (really, where in the hell did you come up with that nonsense).  It's 
    about being careful, that's all.  One bacterium floating around by itself is one 
    thing, but if it lands and grows into a colony of millions of them, and then it 
    happens to be a colony of something like Staph. aureus, then you might have a 
    problem dealing with it in your kitchen/basement/bedroom laboratory. 


    Judy Dilworth, M.T. (ASCP) 
    Microbiology in hiatus 

    Bryan wrote: 

    > This thread borders on the unbelievable...........

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