Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Someone Save Me if You Will": Safety in the Science Classroom

I've begun looking at documents and things that I want to improve for next school year, and one of those such documents is my safety contract. I have students and a parent sign a copy each year either prior to training or right after training. I drafted this based off of many different examples I have see either online or from past teachers. I'm not 100% satisfied with it; I think some of the wording is probably beyond my students and parents, but that's why we go through training together too. Here is my current version of my safety contract.

Also, depending on any changes to the location of safety equipment or what grade the students are in, for example, in coming 6th graders, I have students go on a short scavenger hunt for the equipment.  I then point out the features and demonstrate how to properly use them.

I also generally show a safety video. For the last three years, I have used one the somebody sent through a NSTA listserv. The band is called rhyme, rhyme, results: Lab Safety Rap The video has words blanked out that correspond with blanks on the student guide sheet: Lab Safety Lyrics

Additionally, I discuss with students about behavior expectations when we are in the mix of activities or labs.  Something that I implemented this past year was:
     1.  First time, you sit away from the activities until you think you are able to participate properly
     2.  Second time, I have you sit away from activities until I think you are ready to participate
     3.  Third time, you are finished with the activity and you are responsible for completing the work
           as best as you can based off of observations

I have used this in conjunction with the procedures outlined in the safety contract.  It has worked ok, but there is always room for improvement.

To the students always thinking about safety, I do spend time talking about certain precautions before-hand and also have some precautions written on their lab/activity information.

When I taught high school, someone on a NSTA listserv shared a lab to help demonstrate some of the reasons behind the safety precautions.  I would like to develop something similar to this for middle school, but I haven't quite figured that out.  Many of the reagents/procedures that are used in this lab aren't things that I use with my middle school students.

*A note about the article that is mentioned in the lab.  I have a copy somewhere, so if I located it, I could include it in this post.  On the other hand, it would be fairly easy to find another article with safety issues.

Safety Lab

How do you introduce and keep your students mindful about safety in the science classroom? 


  1. Hi Anne! I just found your blog through Mrs. Harris's science blog linky, I'm your newest follower!

    Science for Kids Blog

  2. Hi Sue! Thanks for your comment! I'm really working to get this blog rolling!