Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications
January 2nd, 2014 by Luann

Organization (in the Lab): 20 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 2 #bc20

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.

Lab Cupboards

Table 1 nailed it!

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?


3 Responses to “Organization (in the Lab): 20 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 2 #bc20”
  1. I struggle with this too. Just today we were cleaning up bunsen burners and we weren’t sure which drawer was it’s “home”. What is this colored tape you are using?

    • Joy, I used colored duct tape on the whiteboards. I used enamel in the same colors to mark the lab equipment. I didn’t mark the glassware, just the metal and plastic items. Paint sticks pretty well to metal, but not the plastic funnels or Hot Hands. I thought of using colored sharpies to number the beakers and such, but haven’t gotten to that yet. I’d love to know if you try something similar, what you use, and how it works for you.

  2. […] Alconox is my glassware-cleaning detergent of choice, when a cleaner is needed. Students usually wash their own glassware at their lab benches. They will dump a handful of Alconox in one beaker when only a sprinkle is needed. The shakers are about 12 cm tall, plastic, easy to refill, and yes, they are color-coded to match the table color scheme. […]

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