Some months ago, I noticed that a headline writer at The New York Times had come up with the expression "Forged in a Crucible". More recently, there was "Cultivating Control in a Nation's Crucible" (a review of a book on Thomas Jefferson). Today, the headline on an article about the Memphis school system is "Crucible of Change in Memphis as State Takes on Failing Schools."
The first two at least suggested a familiarity with crucibles derived from the drama club rather than the chemistry lab. The third story does manage to work in "petri dish" ("a veritable petri dish of practices"), "ground zero", and "kinetic energy".