A school laboratory is a flexible space which should be able to host dynamic student work groups, and which caters for intensive and focussed learning. Here’s a guide on what kind of layout you should choose for a new laboratory at your school.
A chemistry-orientated space needs to cater for several hazards and risks associated with the use of chemicals, as well as the services you will need.
An ideal chemistry classroom will have space for students to sit in groups with easy access to services such as water, electricity and gas. Therefore, there needs to be ample provision of these services, as practical activities usually need these for heat, light and washing up.
The layout should include perimeter benching: perpendicular island benches are convenient and an excellent idea to ensure the students collaborate and can learn individually (see Option 1, below).
This option gives optimum space for the students. There should also be a teacher display bench at the front of the class for teaching theory as well as directing a practical experiment.
Another option is to have benches parallel to the wall on the perimeter of the classroom, with benches extending into the classroom (see option 2, below). This gives greater storage options but can be slightly more expensive.
Whichever design you choose, ensure students are provided space to complete theory work in class. This may involve placing mobile desks in open spaces, or fixed bench space accommodating the maximum number of students. Also ensure that benching is provided on the end wall for demonstrations and large group work.
A biology laboratory should be laid out in a similar fashion to a chemistry laboratory (see below), ensuring there is adequate display area, such as glass overhead cabinetry.
This is best placed along the back wall of the classroom, where models, student work and other display items can be viewed easily.
Also ensure there is space for mobile storage of equipment, mainly microscopes. These can be stored under-bench on trolleys for greater access and convenience.
Physics-orientated labs require lots of space, and lots of power. Therefore, consider providing large open bench space with ample provision of cupboards.
This is best achieved with benching around the most part of the perimeter, and desks for theory work in the centre of the classroom. This will allow you to have huge amounts of under-bench storage, while maximising space.
Mobile desks will allow you to maximise open floor space for experiments requiring speed or large structures. Ensure there are at least two power points per bench, and one or more sinks on either side of the classroom (either one or two per side).
Having the central student desks on wheels will allow you to place the desks against the perimeter benching for maximum bench space and maximum floor space.
Using these layouts for your school science laboratory will allow you to have maximum flexibility, convenience and fit-for-purpose. Whichever areas of study you are focussed on, ensure you follow these guidelines to get the most out of your new laboratory. Having an up-to-date laboratory will help keep your activities and studies run smoothly, and with maximum resource.