Martha Stout, (right) a Kuemper Catholic High School science and theology teacher, helps students break open a pod inside a Juul e-cigarette pen. (Photos by Susie Hulst)
Martha Stout, (right) a Kuemper Catholic High School science and theology teacher, helps students break open a pod inside a Juul e-cigarette pen. (Photos by Susie Hulst)

May 28, 2019

Kuemper Catholic students broke apart the pod within a Juul to have a better look at the mechanics of the pen-like cigarette.

When they cracked it open, though, what they found was more than shocking.

In Martha Stout’s high school chemistry class a few weeks ago, students discussed what they knew about a Juul e-cigarette or “Juuling.” A Juul is an electronic vaporizer or e-cigarette, which can be used as an alternative to smoking cigarettes and allows someone to be more discrete while smoking.

During Stout’s class, the students dissected the “pod” part of the Juul to see what was inside. Stout said many students believed the pod would be filled with runny “water vapor,” but inside they found a substance with a syrup-like consistency.

“It does have nicotine in it, equivalent to 20 cigarettes or one pack per pod, (and) has propylene glycol in it, which is anti-freeze in your car,” Stout said. “It is addictive. The age of user is getting younger and younger, (and) the lithium battery is not safe. The claim that it is just water vapor — where is the water in the ingredient list? (It’s) missing.”

Throughout their discussion, Stout asked her students what they already knew about Juuling and went over misconceptions they may have had about the habit before the class.

At the end of the class, Stout used a test kit to test the liquid in the pod for water, but it found none.

“This was surprising to (the students), since the claim is ‘it’s only water vapor,’ ” she said.

Stout said this activity served as an important learning experience for students to see what is really inside the e-cigarette and know that it is an expensive, addictive habit.

Juuling is such a prevalent activity, especially with the eighth-grade through 12th grades — even in school,” she said. “This topic had been discussed by the faculty, and I thought about showing my students what one was and its effects on their lives, especially their future. I wanted the students to think and evaluate and not just ‘join the crowd.’ ”