I know most junior high students would like to begin the year with explosive lab experiments, but teaching lab safety is a top priority for me. I have developed a list of lab safety rules that I use in my classroom. (I posted them here.)
Each year, I discuss and review lab safety rules with students. Students are then given a copy of my lab expectations to sign and must also get a parent signature. I keep these signed Lab Safety Contracts in a file throughout the year.
I then provide students with scenarios in which they must identify lab safety rules that are not being followed. Students explain how the situation should be handled and ways to prevent the problem from occurring in the lab in the first place.
Teaching lab safety is essential for a successful school year. How do you teach lab safety procedures in your classroom? I’d love to hear what expectations you have and ways that you teach your students how to be safe in the lab.
One of the main reasons I enjoy teaching science is because I can give students the opportunity to perform labs and hands-on activities. Although experiments and activities can be fun, my first concern is that my classroom and lab area are safe for the students. I have established guidelines which clearly state my expectations for maintaining a safe classroom and lab. The following rules are included in my Lab Safety Contract:
1. Laboratory work may only be completed when a teacher is present to supervise.
2. Perform only those procedures assigned and follow directions completely.
3. Handle all materials, chemicals, and equipment as instructed by the teacher.
4. Wear safety gear, such as goggles and gloves, as instructed by the teacher.
5. Notify the teacher immediately if accidents, spills, or injuries occur.
6. Appropriate behavior is required in the lab.
7. Food, drinks, and gum chewing are not allowed in the laboratory.
Lab expectations are discussed at the beginning of the school year and referred to frequently throughout the year as labs are performed. These expectations are also posted in the lab area. Making lab safety a priority can help junior high students establish proper laboratory behavior that will be helpful in high school classes and beyond.