For years, I struggled with organizing student lab cupboards. Way back when, we had enough basic lab equipment for each student pair to have their own stocked, locked drawer. At my most recent school, we do not. Two pairs of students are assigned to work at 1 table. Each pair has their own cupboard. Each cupboard is, however, shared with 5 other classes, both biology and AP Chemistry.
Putting things away is not my strength. It’s a challenge to get students to do so, particularly when they are not solely responsible for their equipment. I’m not particularly disturbed by clutter from student work. It is frustrating for students to have to search the lab to find a needed beaker that someone forgot to put away. The goal is for students to have what they need so their work goes smoothly.
Even at the schools where students had their own stocked lab drawers, some things such as Bunsen burners and ringstands and hotplates were common to all groups using a lab station. I began to color-code some of the equipment. Table 1 is pink, table 2 is red, table 3 is purple, table 4 is blue, table 5 is yellow, and table 6 is green. When I find an iron ring or spatula, there’s no hunt to put it away. Better still, during clean up at the end of class, an aide or I can quickly scan a cupboard for misplaced equipment.
A teacher aide created a page of photo directions that included a list of equipment. The lists live in plastic sleeves on the inside of the cupboard doors.
Any ideas on how to make this even better?