How to create a science lab in your classroom
Need help creating a lab in your elementary classroom? Some schools provide all the supplies you need, some reimburse you for your purchases, and some leave it up to you to fund your classroom supplies. Which ever is your situation, let’s look at a basic cost-effective list of equipment you can use to create a lab for your students. *Prices below were based on my shopping cart on Amazon.com.
1. Group desks together or use tables (Free)
2. Safety Goggles (Set of 6 for $24) Class set
3. Metric Rulers (Set of 36 for $17) Class set
4. Triple Beam Balance ($61) Either one for class demonstrations or one per table
5. Graduated Cylinders (3 for $7) Either one set for class demonstrations or one per table
6. Glass Beakers (3 for $7) Either one set for class demonstrations or one per table
7. Hand lenses ($5) One per table
8. Hot Plate ($15) One for demonstration purposes
9. Electric Circuit Supplies: Wire ($4 a roll), batteries(20 for $8) and holders ($4 each), light bulbs (10 for $5), switches ($14 each); ( a single group set up kit for $14) Have enough supplies on hand for each group to make a circuit with switches
10. Magnet Bar ($4) One per table
11. Microscope – Celestron Digital Microscope ($43) One for class demonstration is probably enough – This one has an attachment so you can put it on the projector or TV screen through your computer!
12. Prism and lens set ($19) One for demonstration purposes
13. Flashlights (4 for $8) One per table
14. Thermometers (10 for $13) One per table
15. Notebook – add to the student school supply list
As labs come up throughout the year, collect and reuse any items you can. Put out emails to friends and staff to collect items you need for labs. Watch garage sales and store clearance sections for good buys. You can also ask local stores and businesses to donate supplies that you need. Most places are happy to help out!
Keep in mind that some of the equipment can be used for class demonstrations, so you will not need to buy multiples. You can look at my list and modify it to your needs. These items are the fundamentals that I use when designing my lessons and labs. If you need lessons, activities, and printables to complete your science class, check out my store!
The most important resource to use when deciding what materials you need for your science classroom is your state and district standards. In Texas, the first section of the standards for Science (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – TEKS) explain the learning goals for scientific investigations and reasoning. They include a list of lab tools students should be comfortable using.
Storage Solutions for Classroom Science Labs
Group the equipment and supplies by the unit they are most often used for, so you will know where to find things. Have cabinets set up for Physical Science, Earth and Space, and Life Science. Keep supplies that you use for labs in gallon freezer bags stored with the corresponding equipment. Most equipment will fall into the Physical Science category, so that will need to be the biggest cabinet. The other two categories will probably contain more supplies than equipment.
Another option is storing lab tools out in the open. Using lab tools as a display serves a dual purpose. You can put the supplies on the top of cabinets around the room with a large label for each one or set. Hang your thermometer on the wall, or hang multiple thermometers in different areas/ temperatures in the room. It would be like a 3-D anchor chart for lab tools. And, it leaves your cabinets open for storing more supplies.
Science Classroom Decor
I never used anything too fancy to decorate a science classroom. Science is an interesting subject and kids like it. Use that to your advantage and use science as your decor. As you cover topics throughout the school year place anchor charts up around the room. Your walls are prime real estate for learning and anchor charts give students a place to refresh their memory. With bright or bold colors and drawings or diagrams, anchor charts can be very decorative. Science news articles and images can be placed around the room or on bulletin boards for added interest. Like I said in the organization and storage section, storing science tools around the room provide visuals for students to become more familiar with the tools and they make the classroom shelves a little more interesting.