Coordination of Science Materials

There are several key steps that a school should consider before setting up a science center. A centralized area where materials are stored and easily assessable is crucial. When teachers are required to teach hands-on science every week, administrators must provide not only materials but an effective retrieval system. Onsite science materials will tell the faculty that there is a strong commitment to teaching science. A centralized place will also allow industry or parents to donate materials that they know will be used by generations of children. There are two major types of centralized materialís strategies for a school, either a science lab or a science storeroom.

Regardless of where the materials are stored, all existing equipment should be inventoried and coordinated with the materials listed in the "Inventory List." Equipment that is frequently used like beakers, graduated cylinders, microscopes, hand lens, measuring cups, or rulers should be in one area. Consumable goods like flour, sugar, or plastic bags should be in an area that can be easily inventoried. Classroom supplies like pencils, scissors, or paper should also be in their own designated area.

After an inventory of the existing materials, schools can then determine what materials they need by looking at the Inventory List. Schools can create their own kits or modules to substitute for the I. Science MaTe materials. Some of the modules such as sand, rocks, or plants may be created by a teacher or parent. Modules that are not available can be purchased from the Math/Science Nucleus. Materials for the I. Science MaTe program should be placed in their appropriate cycles. Some schools may prefer to put the modules by grade level.

THE SCIENCE STOREROOM

 

A science storeroom would just house the materials. It would not be used as a classroom. In this situation, the teacherís classroom would be the site where science is taught.

The suggested size of a room to house all the I. Science MaTe materials is around a 10 x 12 area with shelving that is 7-8 feet high. Everything should have a designated space that is easy to remove and insert modules. If you just put materials in an area with no order, this will create major problems in implementation.

Keeping track of equipment and materials is essential. It is helpful to have a "log book" for teachers to sign in their comments each time they visit the science lab. Teachers can record when materials are getting low or when a piece of equipment breaks and needs replacement. A designated person can then easily replace or fix the materials that are listed in the log. A suggested sheet could have the following headings:

Teacher name

date

lab session

comments

       

A "Materials Check Out" list may be helpful for keeping track of materials that are needed in the classrooms for the pre, lab, or post activities. The following format may be helpful.

name

materials

date out

date returned

       

THE SCIENCE LAB


Blacow Elementary, Fremont, California

Schools that have a room designated for science is an ideal situation. A room can help a school accumulate wonderful hands on materials through the years. Children tend to like a science lab, because of all the special equipment. We have also found that there is less breakage and less stealing of materials if the equipment is housed where it is used. A science lab can also be integrated with the computer lab for maximum use.

The science lab can service either a resource teacher who will teach the Lab or it can be used by the classroom teacher just for the Lab. We have had success with one lab, with over 700 children at a school. Scheduling must be made and adhered to, but having a lab is just wonderful for a school that is committed to teaching science. Kindergarten and first grade do not necessarily have to come into lab, especially if the chairs or tables are too high.

The science lab should include all safety regulations. Fire extinguisher, water, and first aid kits should all be in easy reach. Children should also be given instructions of safety in the lab. Some of the equipment like lasers, plasma balls, microscope, and glass beakers can easily be broken. Children and teachers should have respect for the materials in a science lab.


Scheduling of Science Materials