Modern biology teaching incorporates laboratory experiences for every student. Lab work gives students vital opportunities to develop their skills in scientific method. Learning in the lab trains students to make observations, record them, and then organize and share them. But the success of hands-on education for biology students depends a great deal on how you and your school set up your school science lab.

We have identified five essentials for success in setting up school science labs.

Plan for safety in every aspect of your lab

Student safety is paramount in every laboratory experience. Lapses in safety don’t just harm the students involved in them. They also damage the reputation of your science program and can jeopardize your career.

What are the basics of school lab safety?

  • Make sure your lab is properly ventilated. All indoor spaces tend to accumulate carbon dioxide, making for drowsy students. Good air circulation helps your students and you stay alert.
  • Have a hood for those occasions your students use potentially toxic chemicals.
  • Invest in safety equipment. Students may need safety glasses, goggles, gloves, and lab coats.
  • Get into the habit of storing reagents, test materials, glassware, and other lab equipment in designated locations. Knowing exactly where you keep needed supplies helps you avoid time pressures that lead to accidents.
  • Have smoke detectors, CO2 detectors, CO detectors, and fire extinguishers strategically located for immediate use as needed.
  • Lay out your lab so you can see every student. Don’t have any work stations obscured by tables, lab desks, or bulky equipment.
  • Plan experiments that use non-toxic reagents and test materials. Every component of every experiment kit from Modern Biology is school-tested and safety certified.

Choose a room with good natural lighting

Many experiments involve color changes in reagents and test strips. Students need full-spectrum lighting, preferably natural lighting, to see what they are working with. When natural lighting is not possible, good natural lighting reduces the risk of accidents.

Plan your storage systems for ease of use

Extra care in planning your storage spaces reduces preparation time. It helps you avoid reordering chemicals and equipment you already have on hand. Labeling every item’s place on every shelf saves everyone time.

Keeping your storage systems organized, however, requires communicating the rules for using lab equipment to your students. Make keeping the lab clean, organized, and safe part of every student’s evaluation for their lab grade.

Have a line of sight to every lab station

It is important for every teacher to have a line of sight to every work station in the lab at all times. Teachers need to be able to monitor students to maintain safety. They also need to maintain a line of sight to students for purposes of pedagogy. Being able to interact with students as they work helps them complete the experiment successfully, gives them opportunities to demonstrate their understanding, and keeps tensions to a minimum.

Plan your labs around Modern Biology materials

Modern Biology offers complete learning experiences for over four dozen laboratory topics. Not only will you have all the materials you need for each experiment (assuming you have the basics, like laboratory balances and microscopes), but you will also have a lesson plan, test materials, and student guides. There is no need to requisition supplies, and you can easily set your budget to incorporate Modern Biology affordably into your curriculum.

Modern Biology provides everything you need for hands-on learning experiences in the lab for students from middle school to college. Have questions about how Modern Biology can help you implement Next Generation Science Standards in your biology classroom? Contact Modern Biology weekdays at (765) 446-4220.