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Deathunter88
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 02:38
Parents Getting in the Way of Chemistry


I enjoy doing chemistry, but something that is constantly getting in the way are my parents. They worry so much about every little thing it is kind of annoying. Just the other day I was making sodium carbonate by heating sodium bicarbonate. My parents asked me every 5 minutes "Are you sure its not going to explode?" I was ok with it the first few times but by like the 10th time I was starting to get annoyed. They are the type that think "chemistry" is when you mix A and B and then something explodes. I have a hard time explaining to them that most experiments are quite safe. They are the type of person that thinks Natural=Good, Artificial=Bad. I am not trying to make gunpowder or flash powder or any energetic materials. I simple enjoy chemistry but my parents don't seem to understand that not everything in science is toxic/explosive/hazardous/will melt your face off. Every time I mention a chemical or science-y sounding chemical they say "chemicals belong in professional laboratories and have no right being in the home. How can you be sure you don't develop leukaemia or cancer?" Even if the chemical is sodium chloride. Does anyone have a similar problem and how have you solved it? (I am 13 so don't suggest I should move away from my parents. Also, just because I am young does not mean I am immature)

Note. I do not have social or relationship issues with my parents, I know they are just trying to keep me away from harm. But they are sometimes overprotective. Anyway I can convince them that chemistry is beautiful and you can truly learn a lot from it without being dangerous.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 02:50


It's really kind of easy to fix little brother.

Who's in charge in the house? One? both?

Ask the "boss" to sit with you while you are working, and show / explain the reaction, chemicals, and expected results step by step.

Have your reference material handy, you're notes (you do take notes right), your safeguards in place (explain those as well), and you should be fine. Show them precedents of what you wish to achieve.

I'll wager this will help the immediate issue, and perhaps open new doors leading toward a new respect for you, as well as what you are doing.

It's obvious they either love you or are worried to death you will blow up the house, and leave them out in the street. It's more likely than not... the former.

Just the simple fact that you are a member here is proof enough (for me) that you are sincere, and ambitious.

Respect! :cool:



[Edited on 2-21-2015 by Zombie]




They tried to have me "put to sleep" so I came back to return the favor.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 02:57


The best method is always to combat ignorance with knowledge. Explain what you are using, what is going to happen and what the end product will be. Then download the MSDS for the chemicals involved. Don't forget to use things like salt, bleach and other household chemicals for comparison as most chemicals can sound scary from the msds.




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Deathunter88
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 03:00


Quote: Originally posted by Zombie  
It's really kind of easy to fix little brother.

Who's in charge in the house? One? both?

Ask the "boss" to sit with you while you are working, and show / explain the reaction, chemicals, and expect result step by step.

Have your reference material handy, you're notes (you do take notes right), your safeguards in place (explain those as well), and you should be fine.

I'll wager this will help the immediate issue, and perhaps open new doors leading toward a new respect for you, as well as what you are doing.

It's obvious they either love you or are worried to death you will blow up the house, and leave them out in the street. It's more likely than not... the former.



I would say both of my parents are in charge but as long as one agrees the other usually will agree as well. The problem with having them sit next to me while performing an experiment is that:
a) They say they are busy or they just say "I have no interest in chemistry" and then leave.
b) They agree to stay but I lose them as soon as I mention something like "sodium chloride" And then I have to explain how it is simply table salt but they still somehow believe that it is different just because of the name. I explain how all chemicals are the same no matter where it is. They then shake their head and say something like "No. Chemicals from laboratories are different" and the cycle repeats. They basically are not interested in chemistry, will make no effort to learn anything, and just want me to learn physics instead because it is "safer".
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Deathunter88
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 03:03


Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen  
The best method is always to combat ignorance with knowledge. Explain what you are using, what is going to happen and what the end product will be. Then download the MSDS for the chemicals involved. Don't forget to use things like salt, bleach and other household chemicals for comparison as most chemicals can sound scary from the msds.


Thanks for the advice, and I can 100% agree that the MSDS (or SDS) makes everything sound scary. I tried showing my mom the MSDS for sodium chloride and she got real scared when it said it is a "mild irritant" and threatened to never eat salt again. (face palm) lol
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 03:07


Buy a purple cabbage. Chop finely and put it in a pot with a little water and put a lid on. Turn up the heat until it just starts to cook and you have some purple cabbage juice in the bottom.

Now, take your parents on a tour of your pantry showing them which items are acid and which are alkaline. Do the same with a few cleaners and maybe a freshly squeezed orange. When they realise that everything in the house is a chemical it is easier to talk about. In your particular example you are using heat to convert baking soda to washing soda.

Cooking is chemistry. Food is reagents. And they don't explode.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 03:13


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Buy a purple cabbage. Chop finely and put it in a pot with a little water and put a lid on. Turn up the heat until it just starts to cook and you have some purple cabbage juice in the bottom.

Now, take your parents on a tour of your pantry showing them which items are acid and which are alkaline. Do the same with a few cleaners and maybe a freshly squeezed orange. When they realise that everything in the house is a chemical it is easier to talk about. In your particular example you are using heat to convert baking soda to washing soda.

Cooking is chemistry. Food is reagents. And they don't explode.


I have actually tried that, and it worked to some degree. But now I do some more advanced chemistry and it's a little harder to to convince them it is safe. Just the other day I was distilling chloroform and my mom got really worried because she said that the reflux and the Graham condenser looked like a bomb.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 03:16


Make sure you know the theory of the experiment you want to perform: print and read the pertaining articles, show them to your parents and explain them what you want to do. Exagerate by going into details, write chemical equations, mechanisms, and explain them the experimental procedure. Try to insist they listen to you.

Before you perform any experiment, make a thorough risk assessment together with your parents. Make sure they take this seriously and evaluate every imaginable detail, every possible parameter, every hypothetical failure mode, everything. Chose the protection measures together.

Force them to supervise you during the experiments. Make them pay attention to every possible detail, especially if everything is performed in accordance to the risk assessment decisions. Then make them be present when you report the experimental in your lab notebook. Ask them, if they noticed anything you might have missed, so that you include their valuable comment in the notebook.

Explain them you insist on all this only because you feel they do not trust you and want them understand your passion.

Believe me, sooner or later you will annoy them so much that they will trust you know exactly what you are doing and they will leave you alone. If they are truly as ideologically biased as you described them, annoying them to death is the best way to getting them to trust you and leave you alone. Arguments usually don't beat the ideological beliefs as efficiently as brute force.

As a side product, you will also learn to reflect better on what you are doing and do it more safely.




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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 03:26


Quote: Originally posted by Nicodem  
Make sure you know the theory of the experiment you want to perform: print and read the pertaining articles, show them to your parents and explain them what you want to do. Exagerate by going into details, write chemical equations, mechanisms, and explain them the experimental procedure. Try to insist they listen to you.

Before you perform any experiment, make a thorough risk assessment together with your parents. Make sure they take this seriously and evaluate every imaginable detail, every possible parameter, every hypothetical failure mode, everything. Chose the protection measures together.

Force them to supervise you during the experiments. Make them pay attention to every possible detail, especially if everything is performed in accordance to the risk assessment decisions. Then make them be present when you report the experimental in your lab notebook. Ask them, if they noticed anything you might have missed, so that you include their valuable comment in the notebook.

Explain them you insist on all this only because you feel they do not trust you and want them understand your passion.

Believe me, sooner or later you will annoy them so much that they will trust you know exactly what you are doing and they will leave you alone. If they are truly as ideologically biased as you described them, annoying them to death is the best way to getting them to trust you and leave you alone. Arguments usually don't beat the ideological beliefs as efficiently as brute force.

As a side product, you will also learn to reflect better on what you are doing and do it more safely.


Thanks for the good advice, only problem is that they don't understand english and there aren't too many good experiment procedures written in Chinese. But I will do my best to translate what I am doing and hopefully the plan works.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 05:08


Maybe your greatest experiment to date will be "modifying the parental protection reflex".

Dude... Your in deep doo doo.

How about something beautiful like those Copper Sulfate crystals. Grow one for your mom...
Mom's like gifts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKCS1DvORug

Show them a batch of Youtube Vids on some of the cool things that can be done




They tried to have me "put to sleep" so I came back to return the favor.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 05:37


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Cooking is chemistry. Food is reagents. And they don't explode.


Obviously you have never watched me microwave dinner.




"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 06:04


Quote: Originally posted by IrC  
Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Cooking is chemistry. Food is reagents. And they don't explode.


Obviously you have never watched me microwave dinner.


I hear you on that :(
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 06:15


Quote: Originally posted by Zombie  
Maybe your greatest experiment to date will be "modifying the parental protection reflex".

Dude... Your in deep doo doo.

How about something beautiful like those Copper Sulfate crystals. Grow one for your mom...
Mom's like gifts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKCS1DvORug

Show them a batch of Youtube Vids on some of the cool things that can be done


Don't think that will work. She probably will just throw it away when I am not looking because she thinks it is radioactive/toxic. I had a glow in the dark watch and she thought it was radio active. She won't let me work with chemiluminescent things because she is afraid I will get cancer. -.-
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 07:14


Also, don't make anything disagreeable. When I was younger, I accidentally made some chloroacetone in my parents' garage, and they were not happy.



As below, so above.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 07:41


My parents were so ignorant about science and chemistry that it is actually what caused me to move out of home way before I intended to. We are talking about people what sit, both sucking on glorious cigarettes, badmouthing how all my "chemicals" would make them sick even though I quietly did my experiments out of their sight (basic chemistry back then, precipitates... Color changing indicators etc)

It was beyond their comprehension that a material in a bottle could be handled safely. Yet there they went spraying Lysol air freshener crap all over the place, febreeze on textiles, diesel and oil soaked work clothes stinking up closets and vehicles. Those did not qualify as "chemicals" though which still puzzles me to this day that people intelligent enough to work and feed themselves cannot realize what a word means...

Finally after a couple years I moved out as soon as I was legally able to live on my own. Tolerating the ignorance became too difficult (not only in regards to chemistry, they were multi-faceted ignoramuses)

The point is to do you best at not affecting anyone's living space, quality of life, quality of air and to not hurt yourself above all. Nothing will upset parents more than something that harms their child, so be safe! At the end of the day they still could be against your hobby no matter what you do but if you show commitment to learning and staying safe they may very well appreciate your hobby!

[Edited on 21-2-2015 by Mailinmypocket]




Note to self: Tare the damned flask.
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 08:47


I used to be in the same position as you with my parents. If you want to cringe, just look at my posts from 2013. There is really no solution, because once adults decide on their opinions, they are set... you can't change their minds on anything. So don't bother trying to educate, unless you have very open-minded parents. My mom is OK with me doing chemistry outside, but she still looks down on it as a useless study that she doesn't need for her real life. You'll just have to move your chemistry lab outside.

Quote: Originally posted by Deathunter88  
How can you be sure you don't develop leukaemia or cancer?"


With chemistry, this is a real concern. Remember that in chemistry, you use dangerous chemicals that are dangerous BECAUSE their reactivity makes them useful. At this age, we shouldn't even risk messing around with high carcinogens like sodium dichromate. Not worth ruining your body for the rest of your life, and having to get regular cancer screening. Also, even regular exposure to 10 parts per billion of nitrogen dioxide is linked to lung cancer. Invest in a respirator if you want to work with oxidizing gases like chlorine, Cl2O, chloramine... while these aren't really KNOWN to cause cancer like dichromate compounds, they MAY slightly increase the chance of lung cancer over time, or cause permanent lung damage.

[Edited on 21-2-2015 by Cou]

[Edited on 21-2-2015 by Cou]
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[*] posted on 21-2-2015 at 09:47


Show them this thread on sciencemadness. It shows that you are serious with your hobby, and that there are many other people (also adult people, or people working in industry or a 'real' lab) who enjoy doing chemistry in an amateur setting.

I myself sometimes do experiments with my children, hoping that they become interested. At least all of them already know that chemistry is much more than bombs and drugs and if they see glassware they do not first think of drugs, but think of what it can be used for (e.g. distillation, separation).




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[*] posted on 22-2-2015 at 13:19


Quote: Originally posted by Cou  


Quote: Originally posted by Deathunter88  
How can you be sure you don't develop leukaemia or cancer?"


With chemistry, this is a real concern.


Just to be safe, then, maybe we'd better stop going outside, too. The sun's constantly bombarding us with all kinds of super-duper harmful, cancer-causing UV radiation when we do. We wouldn't want to risk developing skin cancer, either, would we?

:mad:

Seriously, dude, enough with this chemophobic sensationalism. You're an amateur chemist and a proud member of SM, not some ignorant, scientifically-illiterate moron. Act like it! It seems like every other post you make is littered with paranoid, overly-dramatic drivel concerning the legality of practicing hobby chemistry or how potentially dangerous/carcinogenic *insert chemical here* is. I'm not saying your concerns are without merit or entirely unjustified, just that you tend to over exaggerate and blow things way out of proportion. That kind of crap is exactly why we have "chemical-free" chemistry sets these days, and why more and more schools are replacing their interesting and exciting experiments with boring-ass ones simply because they make use of completely harmless and benign chemicals.

I don't mean to offend you, or anything, and I realize you're literally in the worst state for hobby chemistry there is. Believe me when I tell you that I know just how you feel. I'm also in Texas. I also know you're only 15. If anything, I think it's awesome that you're genuinely interested in one of the physical sciences at your age. Same goes for the OP, too, who's even younger than you are. When I was your age, like most kids, I couldn't care less about math and science--or school in general, for that matter--and honestly thought they were my absolute worst subjects. It wasn't until my early twenties (I'm currently 26) that I started really getting into physics and chemistry. It was only then that I realized math and science weren't actually my worst subjects, but were, in fact, my strongest subjects by far.

So, why bother telling you that? Well, it's because I would never have known that had I never become interested in physics and chemistry in the first place. The reason I did so poorly in those subjects back in high school (despite doing so well in them later at the college level) was probably for the same reason most kids today do: lack of interest. I think a lot of that has to do with these boring and uninteresting experiments being done in schools today. The truth is, kids want to see shit blow up, not change colors or overflow like a volcano. It's only once they become interested in the chemistry itself that they will actually appreciate reactions that are less spectacular. It's the very same chemophobia that I see in so many of your posts that continues to promote this lack of interest in the sciences that's so prevalent with the younger generations (including mine).

You even complained in your "coming out" thread that you were the only student in your chemistry class that actually seemed interested in it. I guarantee you a little nitrogen triiodide demonstration would peak a few students' interest. Too bad what was once a pretty common demonstration would now be considered too "dangerous" for the classroom by most schools.
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[*] posted on 22-2-2015 at 13:33


If your parents associate STEM or healthcare fields with success, and wish you to go into one, you have a little leverage here in that you may be able to argue that these are independent studies of pre-laboratory practicals. Seems like a bit of a long shot, but it's more intellectual than sitting around playing video games and shooting up. Your parents should be proud.

The downside is, it is their house. As unfortunate as it may be, you really don't have many rights as a minor.
Quote: Originally posted by Darkstar  
Quote: Originally posted by Cou  


Quote: Originally posted by Deathunter88  
How can you be sure you don't develop leukaemia or cancer?"


With chemistry, this is a real concern.


Just to be safe, then, maybe we'd better stop going outside, too. The sun's constantly bombarding us with all kinds of super-duper harmful, cancer-causing UV radiation when we do. We wouldn't want to risk developing skin cancer, either, would we?


Took advice: hid in basement....

Was exposed to elevated levels of radon. :(
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[*] posted on 22-2-2015 at 17:03


Quote: Originally posted by Chemosynthesis  
Quote: Originally posted by Darkstar  
Quote: Originally posted by Cou  


Quote: Originally posted by Deathunter88  
How can you be sure you don't develop leukaemia or cancer?"


With chemistry, this is a real concern.


Just to be safe, then, maybe we'd better stop going outside, too. The sun's constantly bombarding us with all kinds of super-duper harmful, cancer-causing UV radiation when we do. We wouldn't want to risk developing skin cancer, either, would we?


Took advice: hid in basement....

Was exposed to elevated levels of radon. :(


Ha, I thought about the radon too so I decided to hide in an old abandoned warehouse.


Ohhhhh shit, there's asbestos in here, noooo:(
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[*] posted on 6-3-2015 at 09:01


Honestly the only solution is to buy your own house and forget about trying to change your parents' mind. You sound a bit young so maybe this isn't exactly feasible at this point, but you're definitely wasting your time trying to make them see our passion in a different light.
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[*] posted on 7-3-2015 at 04:19


Quote: Originally posted by Sparklehorse  
Honestly the only solution is to buy your own house and forget about trying to change your parents' mind. You sound a bit young so maybe this isn't exactly feasible at this point, but you're definitely wasting your time trying to make them see our passion in a different light.


I'm afraid you're right. :(
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[*] posted on 10-3-2015 at 13:35


Quote: Originally posted by Deathunter88  
Quote: Originally posted by Sparklehorse  
Honestly the only solution is to buy your own house and forget about trying to change your parents' mind. You sound a bit young so maybe this isn't exactly feasible at this point, but you're definitely wasting your time trying to make them see our passion in a different light.


I'm afraid you're right. :(

C'mon as Cicero said Aegroto dum anima est, spes est :D
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[*] posted on 14-4-2015 at 11:19


Me being 12 and haveing very understanding parents, my dad used to find textbooks from the 40s and make explosives as a teen, my mum can get worried at times but what I do is explain the risks, explain the objective then explain the safety precautions I will put in place. Oh and it never hurts to say things like, well if it gets out of the apparatus I will have to get a lungfull of it to effect me or, apon ignition, this will act like a party popper. Just don't overuse the dulldowns



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[*] posted on 14-4-2015 at 15:33


Wait until your older. It sucks and my parents still didn't understand when i was 22, one I graduated college they stopped but for many many years we played hide the lab. My mom has found 4 labs of mine, most improvised things I only used real glass when I had to.

Basically they kept getting more complex as I got older. It wasn't that they didn't want me doing it but my mom worried because I was young and no other reason. She's always viewed me as incredibly intelligent and capable of way more then she could understand, but that never made me an adult chemist in her eyes. Now she can't really say much about it I'm too old and I put in the time to prove myself. I never thought I would have my mom sign for my chemicals, I must be old.




Chemistry is a natural drive, not an interest.
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