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The perfect school science lab

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by nadinedyson, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. nadinedyson

    nadinedyson New commenter

    Hi All,

    if you could design your perfect school science lab and/or prep-room, what would you include or avoid??

    Many thanks in advance.
  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    In no particular order.
    Gas taps adjacent to sinks in any room where A level chemistry might happen.
    Gas taps in the centre of the room rather than where Bunsens can set posters on fire
    Proper permanent fume cupboard. (Portable fume cupboards are at best 4 sided safety screens and a dangerous waste of money)
    Robust blackout
    Ventilation that works
    Windows that open and don't need stupid poles or winders
    Level access for trolleys from the prep room
    Clear visibilty of white boards
    Good accoustics
    Plenty of storage for trays of glassware etc.
    Teacher's workstation with space for demos.

    Prep room space for trays
    Lots of bench space for stuff going out and stuff going in
    Balance for sole use of tech
    Fume cupboard
    Lockable storage
    IT network access
    Shelf space for catalogues, lab guides, texts files etc.
    Suitable cupboards for flammables and corrosives
    Fridges and freezer

    Bet I've forgotten some stuff!
  3. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Start by getting the advice from CLEAPSS.
    If they are still running it, attend the course at the National Science Learning Centre.
    I think ASE produce good advice packs as well
    msuxg and wanet like this.
  4. nadinedyson

    nadinedyson New commenter

    thanks for this - I've looked at ASE but not CLEAPSS as yet.
  5. nadinedyson

    nadinedyson New commenter

    thank you so much for this list - it's great:)
  6. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    For the classroom:
    Don't forget a ceiling mounted projector and a smart board. I know we are fighting to keep software simulations out of science but IT still has its place.

    You will also need a white board. I used to project onto a whiteboard and then add comments with a whiteboard marker. Unfortunately my colleague tried the same technique with our smart board and did it some damage. I don't know if modern smartboards can take this nowadays as I'm retired. Downside of projecting onto a whiteboard is you can get some shine-back.

    Think about the ergonomics of the room. Technician entry. Student entry. Teacher bench focus. Easy observation of the class by the teacher. (Sounds obvious but I have seen some silly things in labs concerning this.)

    Also, solar restricting cover for the windows if they will be in direct sunlight.

    Sensible positioning of facilities like fume cupboards so the class can see them as a group. (you did say "perfect"!)

    Go for broke and ask for air conditioning!!! Sorry, getting silly now.

    IT network access for teacher.
    First aid station, fire extinguisher, etc. What about a telephone for contacting outside the lab without having to leave. A notable failure in all the labs I have worked in. The prep room can not be next to all the labs / classrooms.

    "Perfect" lab concept -- the prep room is right next to the lab!

    For the prep room - the most valuable asset for me were the technicians themselves!
  7. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    One thing I don't know what to think about is to have fixed benches with centrally fixed services ( electricity, sink, taps) for the students to work at, or for the services to be fixed at the side of the classroom allowing the benches to be movable. Movable benches allow the creation of areas large enough to allow movement experiments with the students and the like. eg. rotational movement on swivelling chairs etc. It also allowed us to clean up and completely cover surfaces for food experiments.

    But movable benches resulted in the classroom being left in disarray by the previous teacher etc. Also it required more prep time if such a system was used. On the other hand services in front of the students could lead to problems from bored hands on occasion.

    I suppose though I would vote for the versatile movable bench situation as this was the one I had at a wonderful school where the students were well behaved and could be trusted. Sod's law later had me at a dreadful school where the children were not able to behave sufficiently well enough for a science lab, and where the services were unfortunately right in front of them. During my short time there, (no way was I going to remain long!) sadly three children from my classes were permanently excluded from the school for poor behaviour including misuse of science equipment and services. We had a new Head who was looking for sacrificial lambs, and whilst the staff were aware of it and were looking over their shoulders, the students were not. By excluding 60 children - and science is always an easy target for H&S - the Head was able to remove the school from the verge of special measures. I have no time for "super heads" Most of them simply exclude a large number of children.

    But sorry, I am going off the point on my own little chip, Soz!
  8. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Definitely the worse school labs were those that were converted classrooms, which had the services, gas, water and drainage, in overhead pipes. The pumps under sinks, which were meant to force the water up into the drainage pumps often failed, facing you with a flooded floor, first thing in the morning. You couldn't see what was going on across the room as all the benches had conduits up to the ceiling, which looked like ships funnels.
  9. Futureleader

    Futureleader Occasional commenter

    Flexibility - movable tables. The best lab I had was massive. It had 2 clear sections. A classroom area near the board. (Students were in seats not stools - Hooray they were smaller than me!) The desks were normal school desks - so cheap to replace and wipable.

    The back section of the room was a practical area. It had fixed benches, gas and sinks. The equipment was in cupboards under the practical benches.(Underneath area all cupboards so students had to stand for the practical) The practical area had the benches at standing to work height. The practical benches were not up against the walls so no problems with notice boards. (Only problem was because the room was a little bigger they tried filling the practical area with lockers which restricted some movement)

    No children sitting in practical area so no bags or stools. Clear separation of practical area and work area so pupils fiddling with equipment whist I am trying to talk. Excellent to be able to transition between the two areas. There were 2 full walls of windows so excellent light for the large room. As I taught Physics the blinds were blackout and fully functional.

    Main thing was that it was very big. About twice the size of a normal room. It was fantastic. I am welling up thinking about it. My room now has fixed islands that I walk into ow! There are wooden desks for students to carve their love of Physics into!
    wanet likes this.
  10. msuxg

    msuxg New commenter

    The CLEAPSS document for this is G14 Designing and Planning Laboratories.

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