The Do’s and Don’ts of Safety in School Science Laboratories
A Science laboratory is an essential part of any school. Most schools have dedicated laboratories which invite students to conduct experiments, perform research, and indulge in hands-on learning. Often the school’s science lab is the birthplace for successful scientists and renowned researchers, who got the opportunity to explore their interest for science at an early age and develop an inclination towards discovering the amazing mysteries of sciences. A science laboratory is a space where students are not judged on the basis of right or wrong, but conduct observations and learn by experience and repeated trials.
Types of Labs in School
Depending on the space constrains, schools may have dedicated labs for different science disciplinaries like Physics, Chemistry and Biology or have one laboratory with allocated space to conduct different types of research and experiments.
For over 90 years, Carolina has been a trusted provider for supplying science lab materials to schools across the world including the Middle East and GCC regions. Their endeavor is to constantly improve their science supplies by introducing innovative ready-to-use biology, chemistry, and physics, kits to conduct experiments, seamlessly. Carolina specializes in serving the traditional K-12/college classrooms and labs across the UAE, including Dubai. Being a lab partner to many schools, Carolina also mandates safety protocols and manuals to aid safe discoveries.
Why Follow Rules and Precautionary Measures in a Science Lab
Students must not step in the school laboratories casually and treat it as a playground. There are certain rules laid down by the teacher or lab in-charge which needs to be adhered to. Some schools also hand over a copy of the ‘safety manual’ which needs to be read before entering the lab and commencing with the experiments.
When safety is not paid attention to in a laboratory the student not only risks of ruining the experiment, but also putting the life of others present in the lab in danger. An accident can damage the equipment and cause injury to students. Therefore, it’s always safety and rules first!
Do’s and don’ts to follow at the Science Lab
Don’t eat or drink in a science lab
There is strictly no munching allowed in a school lab! Students handle materials and chemicals with their hands and it is too dangerous to put a morsel of sandwich in your mouth with the same bare hands. Also storing food and beverages in the same refrigerator where the lab experiments are kept can lead to adulteration and disastrous effects on human health. Moreover, spilling a drink over the lab research notes can ruin the student’s chance of earning good grades.
Don’t try to be a mad scientist
We know how excited students are when they step into the science lab for the very first time! It’s indeed thrilling to be surrounded by beakers, colorful liquids, and stuffed animals, which is unusual in the classroom scenario. However, children must contain their excitement and not play or mishandle any material. Randomly mixing chemicals just to see what happens, can cause a blast and the premise could be on fire. Running or dancing around could also break delicate glass apparatus.
Don’t enter the lab without any adult supervision
Always inform your science subject teacher or lab in-charge if you have to visit the lab out of turn besides the allocated practical science period. The adult might have to accompany the student and stay with him until he is done with his work. Also make sure not to leave an experiment mid-way. Always complete the experiment and turn off the knobs & valves before leaving the space.
Do dress appropriately
The attire you wear while entering a lab is of great importance, as it can save you from an unruly accident. Always wear clothes that cover most parts of your body, like, long pants, full sleeved shirts, and shoes that conceal your toes. Besides this, you need to protect yourself with an additional layer of clothing. Protective gear usually includes, lab coats, safety goggles, face shields, gloves, and noise cancellation ear plugs, depending upon the nature of the experiment you are about to perform.
Do dispose of the waste and clean up the workstation
Students usually arrange their lab desks neatly before an experiment, however, as soon as the experiment is over, they seem to be in a hurry to rush out and might forget to follow procedures. One important lab rule to follow is to know exactly what to do post an experiment and where to dispose the waste. Chemicals need to be poured down the drain and glass test tubes need to be stored safely in its assigned place. There is also a proper method for removing the safety equipment and dropping it in the appropriate disposable bin.
Do remember where emergency equipment is located
School labs especially should conduct regular drills to practice what is to be done when an emergency strikes. Every lab has a safety shower area, where casualties are rushed to drench themselves in water, if a hazardous chemical happens to spill over an exposed body part. The lab is also vulnerable to fires, and hence having a fire extinguisher handy is a must. Children should be able to access the fire extinguisher in case of an emergency and know how to use it correctly. It goes without saying that a well-equipped First Aid kit should be available in the lab premise which must be restocked frequently.