Lab Equipment Safety

Teri Cosentino, 3rd-6th grade science teacher
National Science Teachers Association Recommends

[Review of Tools in Science Series] Do we teach science so students can dazzle us with their knowledge of content? To have them test well? Or to help them solve problems and then apply those solutions to the real world? If we want the children we teach to compete and to love science, then we must provide the tools of science to them at an early age. This DVD package provides a plethora of learning opportunities for students. Its four sections provide the tools for lifelong learning---Lab Safety, Measuring Mass and Volume, Measuring Length and Temperature, and The Microscope. The program includes a teacher’s guide, and each of the four sections has segments in the video/DVD, a script of each video, pre/post student tests, video review question-and-answer sheets, vocabulary sheets in the form of matching and unscrambling, writing sheets, and an activity sheet that enables students to put their skills to work. Each activity hits a different level of learning, from application to synthesis. The DVD offers many opportunities for students to think---not only during the “You Decide” video sections but also through the questioning strategies found in the worksheets. Lab Safety makes analogies to the need for protective equipment in sports like kayaking and soccer ("rules which all players must follow"). It uses a common sense approach, asking viewers what the person is doing wrong and allowing viewers to see what could have been done to prevent an accident. The worksheets are helpful and record students’ responses---giving a sentence and asking them to play the game of what is the accident and what is the prevention. This module takes a dry, must-cover topic and makes it fun to learn and to learn well. Almost every teacher must cover the material in Mass and Volume and Length and Temperature early in the year. The former presents real-life situations to cover mass, weight, using a balance, using a spring scale, and measuring the volume of liquids and solids. The worksheets allow students to choose which tool would be best to measure liquid volume, how to recognise the meniscus in a graduate, and what would weight be on different planets. Length and Temperature covers different types of thermometers and scales. Students must choose appropriate tools and distinguish between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures. I was especially excited to see the final module, on use of the microscope. I can't count the number of times I have told students not to use the coarse adjustment knob while under high power or they would crack the cover slip, and here I find another person saying the same thing! I can’t wait to share that with my fifth graders along with a review of early microscopes with Robert Hooke. That familiar upside down “e” is here, too. Black line masters include parts of the microscope, making a wet mount slide and cells (onion skin and cork). In the past, I have either created or used materials for my measurement unit from several sources. Now I have it all in one place---safety, mass, volume, length, temperature, and microscope---along with one terrific video. It is exactly what I do, and the standards are linked, too. For a former scientist who is now a science teacher, it doesn’t get any better than this!