A science laboratory is a place for scientific investigation. Often, laboratories contain sophisticated equipment and chemicals, and they can be dangerous if not used properly. The safety of students should be a top priority in the design and operation of a laboratory.
In general, labs should be locked, have master shut off devices for utilities, and have heat sensors. They should also be handicap accessible. However, there are exceptions to these rules. If a spill requires evacuating the entire room, contact the local fire department hazmat team to make a plan. This includes using a chemical spill cart to handle small spills in a lab.
Science laboratories have played a key role in faculty research and advancement. Universities are eager to stay in touch with industry. As such, they are often called upon for immediate technical difficulties. However, most of their clients lack the appropriate facilities.
For example, a biology teacher might ask students to model an animal or plant system, or to analyze emission and absorption spectra in the light from stars. They may also interact with real-world data, including computer-generated models of natural phenomena.
Many laboratories, such as those in microbiological, life sciences, and cell culture laboratories, require an incubator. These incubators control the humidity and CO2 levels, and they are an important part of the safe operation of the laboratory. Students should be taught how to operate an incubator safely.
Students should not remove anything from the laboratory without the approval of the teacher. Some materials, such as acrylic nails, dangling jewelry, and loose clothing, are safety hazards. Make sure that the furniture in a laboratory is in place to eliminate trip hazards.
Students should wear aprons, rubber gloves, and safety tongs. Moreover, they should never taste or inhale fumes produced during an activity. Additionally, students should follow all of the instructions given to them. Never leave unused chemicals in the original containers. When a student is injured, he or she should report the incident to the teacher immediately.
Safety and cleanliness should be maintained in all areas of the laboratory. Any spills, particularly large ones, should be handled by a hazmat team. If a lab is equipped with a microwave oven, ensure that proper signage is posted outside the door. Microwave ovens are designed to heat water, but are not suitable for heating metallic objects.
In addition, it is important to ensure that the chemical storage area is clean and dry. It should be kept in a temperature range of 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, storage areas should be separated by compatible groups, such as by type and shelf. Similarly, each storeroom should have a separate entrance and be lockable.
Finally, a science teacher should have key access to the preparation room, storerooms, and the laboratory. He or she should be aware of all the hazardous chemicals in the school, and should be able to respond to any emergency in a timely manner.
Ultimately, the committee’s research sheds light on many of the important questions that should guide the future of science laboratories in the U.S. Although the committee’s work was primarily focused on how students learn in a lab, it is clear that the history of science education in the U.S. has shaped how scientists think about the design of future science laboratories.