WESTMINSTER — After seeing South Carroll High School chemistry teacher Robert Foor-Hogue use smoke from three cigarettes to slow down the circulation in a goldfish, Dawn Reed is more convinced than ever not to start smoking.
"There isn't any way that I am going to start," said the 14-year-old eighth-grader from Northwest Middle School. "It was a good demonstration because it showed what smoke can do to you."
Foor-Hogue set up his makeshift chemistry lab at the third annualCarroll County Drug and Alcohol Summit on Thursday at Martin's. About 200 high school and middle school students spent the day participating in sessions to learn about the dangers of drugs.
While other speakers exhorted against using drugs and alcohol, Foor-Hogue graphically demonstrated the effects of tobacco smoke on living beings.
Using a variety of rubber hoses and glass tubes, large beakers, test tubes and Bunsen burners, he was able to create several artificial smoking machines.
Heating a test tube filled with broken pieces of a cigarette, he was able to create enough liquid tar to coat the bottom of the tube.
With another machine, he was able to run smoke through a beaker that contained a goldfish. Within minutes, the goldfish began to swim in a disoriented fashion.
Students looking through a microscope were able to see the blood circulating in the fish's tail slow down.
"Imagine if you are a baby in a mother and the amount ofoxygen slows down to your brain," said Foor-Hogue. "There will come a time when a pregnant woman smoking will be considered child abuse."
Foor-Hogue takes great comfort that the number of suspensions forsmoking in county schools has dropped considerably in the past several years.
"It looks like we are making some headway," he said.
Juvenile Master Peter Tabatsko also said that he is seeing evidence that programs like the drug summit are beginning to have an affect because last year, he saw fewer juvenile cases than four years ago.
That has occurred despite an increase in Carroll County's population.
Tabatsko pointed out, however, that among the juveniles appearing before him, at least 60 percent have either an alcohol or drug-abuse problem.
He said it is unfortunate that students still find it necessary to spend a day talking about drugs and alcohol.
"Do we spend all day talking about the dangers of taking rat poison?" he asked.
Other sessions at the summit dealt with peer pressure, family problems, stress and athletes and drugs.
Youngsters said they enjoyed spending the day away from class, and most said they got something out of the sessions.
"It was pretty good," said Rich Sell, a 13-year-old from Northwest Middle School.