When in the *hell* will kids learn mercury is not a toy?

First three articles are from the Washington Post

More like a case of kids being morons.

To answer the question in the subject, perhaps after they get a proper education in science. In high school, I certainly knew that shiny liquid metal = mercury = dangerous.

Touché, FH.

I and all of my geek friends agree - we feel really, really cheated that we were born too late to play with mercury. Not on a regular basis or anything, but… maybe just once? It just seems so COOL. We just want to get some gloves and masks and… you know… mess with it. Just once.

You know, mercury IS pretty cool when you look at it from a certain point of view… (Bongmaster scuttles out of view dragging 3rd appendage)

It’s too bad there isn’t a non-toxic substance that looks and acts like mercury. It is neat stuff.

Once when I was a very young kid, my parents were taking my temperature (orally).
I wanted to be helpful, so I was shaking it so it’ll return back down. I accidentally broke the tube on my desk, spilling the stuff.
I played with it for a minute until my parents returned into my room and yelled the hell outa me…

Now, my teachers always told me that playing around with mercury isn’t all that dangerous. It’s long term exposure to the stuff that can cause real harm. I don’t know for sure; can anyone confirm?

['sup, Jack?]I was getting my temperature taken and I sneezed, shattering the glass between my teeth and putting mercury in my mouth and on the floor. Last time I checked, I was still alive[/'sup Jack]

I broke a mercury thermometer as a kid, and my dad played with it with me. He was a physicist, but also an asshole, so who knows? Maybe I’m dead too.

You just don’t want the liquid stuff hanging out in the heat registers, releasing vapor into the air the same kids breathe over and over, day after day. It’s the vapor that’s deadly.

I read about a suicide attempt where the girl injected mercury from thermometers under the skin of her arms. It was causing a plastic surgery nightmare, but wasn’t anywhere near fatal.

I got to play with mercury in high school (1994, exactly). Neener neener.

Who the hell doesn’t know what mercury is??

Revtim - Gallium’s pretty kewl

It does seem kinda outrageous that they would do that, but it happens often enough that I’m pretty sure some people are just oblivious by nature. At least they didn’t smoke cigarettes dipped in it cause it looked neat. Or break open medical equipment and play with the glowing stuff inside. :rolleyes:

A bunch of kids who have been SO overprotected that while they may have heard “mercury is dangerous” have NO FRIGGING CLUE what mercury actually looks and acts like, maybe?

I don’t remember ever getting to play with mercury. My mom does. I’m jealous!

Ah, so THAT’S what’s in those penis-enlargement pills…

Overprotected, definitely. But I can’t believe that they’ve made it all the way to high school without at least seeing a chemistry or physical science video that showed mercury. (Then again, maybe my science teachers relied a little too heavily on videos to occupy the class.)

And while it’s not something you want to play with, exposing potassium or sodium to the air is pretty cool too.

Back during the Truman Administration when I was a second or third grader, a bunch of us got our hands on a vial of liquid mercury and spent a happy afternoon silvering pennies so they looked like dimes. That evening I tried to get two nickels for one of them from my father, a physician. The old man came unglued. There was a series of phone calls to my friends’ parents with an explanation of the dangers. All of this was followed by a stiff lecture and a quick trip through an AMA Journal article on mercury poisoning. While I did a lot of stupid dangerous stuff as a kid, I don’t think I ever saw the old man as concerned and worried as he was that night.

We didn’t know any better. Surely high school kids today do.

My mother taught me about the dangers of mercury when I was a child:
*Little Willie from the mirror
Licked the mercury right off,
Thinking in his childish error
It would cure his whooping cough.

At the funeral his mother
Brightly said to Mrs. Brown:
“It was a chilly day for Willie
When the mercury went down.”*

(Of course then she had to explain all of the references to obsolete technology and no longer common childhood diseases.)

This is like that mst3k episode with the monsters that could only be poisoned with sodium.

“Kids today don’t know SQUAT about sodium! Let’s sing a song about sodium using the rock and roll music the kids seem to like!”

To address Topaz and lissener, it’s not a matter of you being dead. It’s a matter of you becoming stupid. Exposure to mercury is similar to exposure to lead. Ingested or inhaled, it causes nervous system damage. The effect is especially marked in children. Have you ever heard of the “Mad Hatter” from Alice in Wonderland? Hatters were associated with madness in the 19th century due to chronic exposure to mercury-containing felting compounds.

As far as identifying mercury, an interesting thing happened in my son’s first grade class last week. The students were learning about thermometers, and the teacher told the students that the red liquid in the thermometers she showed them was mercury!

I happened to run into my son’s teacher a few days later, and I told her that mercury is a liquid silver-colored metal. The red liquid in thermometers is colored alcohol. She told me that she told the students that the red liquid was mercury because that’s what her printed, published lesson book said! In fact, she added that she was terrified of dropping one of these thermometers because she was worried about mercury contamination!

I want to add that this teacher is very highly regarded, and has been teaching for 20-plus years. Some science education, huh? :rolleyes: It’s no wonder that when I taught at a post-secondary prep school, I ran into so many misconceptions and out-and-out lies taught to my students in their previous education. (e.g. window glass supposedly flowing, electrons in wires travelling at the speed of light, etc.)