Er… Kaboom, Monsieur Jerrie?

Ah, the beginning of the school year, the time of the useless assignment.

Case in point: Kiddo#1, beginning 7th grade, was assigned to make a poster illustrating one of the rules of the science lab. You know, rules like “Don’t eat or drink in the lab,” “No running,” and so on.

I made several suggestions, none of which he took. My heart is broken. He mocked up a poster that said “It’s cool to follow directions…if it’s cool to keep ten fingers!” but I nixed that idea.

Eventually he drew a poster with a beaker of ammonia and a glass of water and captioned it with something like “Both look alike. Only one will kill you. No eating or drinking in the lab.”

But in the meantime, I whipped up a poster of my own over at I Can Haz Cheezburger and told him to slip it in with all the other completed assignments. It had no name on it. No one would ever trace it back to him, but darn, it was funny.

He agreed to turn it in. But on Tuesday, after he went back to school, I found it still in his room. Kiddo#1 had chickened out. Either that or he’d been lying to me from the start.

I’m so misunderstood. 😉


About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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14 Responses to Er… Kaboom, Monsieur Jerrie?

  1. Cheryl says:


    I *love* it. I’d hang it in my class.

    (If/when I ever teach science again, that is.)

  2. Lane in PA says:

    Well, considering that my hubby is a nuclear scientist and works at an atomic lab, I find your poster to be absolutely hysterical.

    Wait, maybe “hysterical” is not a good choice of words.

    Can I print out your poster and put it in his lunch box?

  3. Jason Block says:

    ROFL! I would be chicken too if I had to do that. But that is funny as hell!

    • philangelus says:

      The mom of a girl in the same grade took it. Her daughter will leave it on the lab teacher’s table. The mom tells me this teacher has a great sense of humor and will get a good laugh out of it.

  4. Ivy says:

    Love it! Honestly, I think the “if it’s cool to keep ten fingers” sign was the best of the bunch.

    Here’s a story he might find amusing. Once, when I was into oil paints, I used turpenoid. It’s turpentine without the smell, so it in all ways resembles water. My mother’s best friend wanted to see what I was doing, so she came in to my room to watch.

    She saw a small container of what she must have taken for water with a few paint brushes soaking in it, and flicked her cigarette into it. The emergency room doctors said she was lucky to come away with only minor burns on her face and singed hair and eyebrows.

    • philangelus says:

      A high cost for deliberately trying to put ashes into your clean paint-brushes. But emotionally satisfying on a justice level, since neither you nor I had anything to do with it. 😉

  5. Tadj says:

    All I could think of after this post was “Johnny was a chemist, now Johnny is no more. What Johnny thought was H2O was H2SO4”

    With a degree in Chemistry, I’ve seen a lot of posters and heard a lot of sayings. While the one that he did turn in didn’t rhyme and wasn’t cutsey, it did get to the point very well!

  6. Jason Black says:

    That’s not a useless assignment at all.

    And while lab safety is indeed important, that’s not what I mean.

    Creating a poster like this is an exercise in messaging and information design. These are key 21st century skills. I’m glad schools are giving kids the opportunity to exercise them, even if the excercise isn’t phrased in those terms. A little bit of internet research on copywriting (a’la copyblogger’s great headline writing series) would probably result in an awesome poster that might, just might, actually improve lab safety too.

    • philangelus says:

      While that might be an unintended side-effect of the assignment, I tend to think it was just an attempt on the part of the teacher to drive home several of the lab rules.

  7. Gary Corby says:

    I love the poster!

    This puts me in mind of Carl Scheele, the man who first isolated hydrogen cyanide. Unfortunately in Scheele’s day it was standard pratice to describe new chemicals by, amongst other things, their taste…

    He survived. But died at a young age probably due to the number of horrible things he swallowed. He also discovered molybdenum and chlorine.

  8. Lookin^Up says:

    All three messages certainly have impact. Hopefully anyone seeing these signs will think twice about what they’re doing. The “Ooopsie” poster is the funniest, in a sort of morbid kind of way. Maybe the lady Ivy mention should have had such a sign to warn her as well.

    Just a thought … or two …

  9. cricketB says:

    I like the 10-fingers one, and it’s useful in shop class as well. Not sure how the teacher would take it, but it gets the point across. Boys at that age seem to like the gory details and morbidity. Enough do it that I suspect it’s one of those necessary phases, sigh.

    The assignment also tells the teacher what he’s go this year. Your son is a geek and can identify ammonia.

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