If you are tasked with ensuring that your school’s laboratory is equipped with everything that students need to conduct experiments and learn about the many chemical interactions that take place in our world, you will want to do the very best job that you can. The following short guide is not meant to be comprehensive but I hope that it will give you some ideas and help you to get started.
Not every school is the same and precise requirements will differ but there are a few essentials that every educational lab should have.
Benching. Whether you are working within the constraints of a tight budget or money is of no concern, your lab will definitely need benches on which students can perform experiments and write notes about what they observe. Laboratory furniture systems such as those manufactured by Interfocus have heavy duty bases and strong frames, making them an excellent choice when sourcing benches that will be in use for many years to come.
Sinks. Areas where laboratory glassware can be safely cleaned are a basic requirement and should be installed in convenient locations across the classroom to make sure that no student is ever far from one. Stainless steel units are popular, because of their resistance to various corrosive substances and ease of maintenance. Epoxy resin models are another good choice and are available from all good manufacturers.
Safety storage cabinets. Many of the chemicals that are routinely used in experiments at schools throughout the world are perfectly safe when handled appropriately but can be very dangerous if misused or exposed to the elements for any length of time. For this reason, it is vital that you equip your school lab with cabinets that can protect volatile compounds and keep them out of harm’s way. All schools have procedures for the handling of hazardous materials and these procedures should include recommendations for the storage of chemicals in such cabinets, for the reasons that have already been mentioned.
Emergency eyewash stations. These should be spaced evenly throughout school laboratories so that all students can access them without delay. It is vital to act quickly in the event that chemicals should enter a student’s eye, in order to minimise any damage that may occur as a result. Rapid action can sometimes help to ensure that there are no long-term consequences whatsoever, although this will of course depend on the precise nature of the chemicals in question.
Once you have made a list of all the equipment that you will need and found a reputable supplier, you will need to decide where everything is going to be installed once it arrives at the school. There are many factors to consider when planning the layout of a school laboratory but safety and ease of use should be at the top of your list of priorities.
Unless you have a great deal of experience in producing floor plans for educational institutions, it is a good idea to hire a professional to make sure that the job is completed in accordance with all relevant regulations. In particular, the fire safety regulations will need to be considered carefully when deciding on the placement of sprinklers and other safety features. Failure to comply could result in serious issues for your school, not to mention the fact that students and teachers could be put in danger.
Equipping a school lab is a big undertaking but as long as you follow all the regulations that apply to such facilities and ask for help when necessary, you should be able to create a fantastic laboratory for your students.