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Celebrate the Bunsen burner and its contributions to science in March

When: March 30

What: Bunsen burners, along with white coats and clear goggles, are the stereotypical fundamentals of laboratory equipment and garb. But the Bunsen burner is far from just a stereotype. The tool is 150 years old and is still an indispensable part of modern research and education labs. Robert Bunsen’s birthday on March 30 is a great chance to discuss his work and promote laboratory science.

Background: Robert Bunsen created the burner in conjunction with his lab assistant, Peter Desaga, at the University of Heidelberg in 1854. Its ability to tightly control a mixture of combustible gas and air has been crucial in labs ever since. Bunsen also co-created the spectroscope and discovered cesium and rubidium.

Story Pitch: There’s much more to Bunsen than the burner that bears his name, and his birthday provides a good launching point for an array of related chemistry and science topics in laboratory equipment and education. Companies that sell and distribute lab equipment can certainly pitch around this famous device and its creator, but highlighting specials and innovations in equipment like spectrometers would also be a natural fit. Educators can use Bunsen’s discoveries and creations to teach the history of science and how engineering can often dovetail into other sciences.

Story Hook: Bunsen’s later creation of the spectroscope was dependent on his burner for an adjustable and constant light source. What other scientific equipment and discoveries would not have been possible without what we now consider basic lab equipment? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • How has the Bunsen burner changed, and why is it still essential in labs today?
  • What lab equipment is currently considered cutting edge?
  • How do disciplines like machining factor into the invention of lab equipment?
  • How can educators with limited resources get access to lab equipment?

Tips: Provide contact information for laboratory managers, equipment inventors and other experts in the field. Meanwhile, majors in science would also be good to speak with about their interest in science and the tools they use.


American Chemical Society
(800) 333-9511

Clinical Laboratory Management Association
(312) 321-5111

Laboratory Products Association
(703) 836-1360

NIST Engineering Laboratory
(301) 975-6478

–Researched, compiled & written by Nicholas Testa
Event Dates  from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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