Elementary school teachers are very fortunate. It is they who first capture a child�s insatiable curiosity and sense of wonder. Elementary teachers have the privilege and responsibility to nurture a child�s excitement about science and about learning. Children learn by doing and science is a hands-on endeavor. It is in elementary school where the potential for our future scientists and scientifically-literate citizens is fostered and reinforced.
A Teacher's Role
It is of the utmost importance that elementary science teachers take appropriate safety
precautions in science activities. As a teacher, you are the role model for your students. You
influence students� beginning attitudes and you help them form habits that will carry them through
high school, college and the workplace. As students� role model, you are expected to display good
safety habits at all times and set sound safety expectations for your children.
In the Beginning . . .
Discuss safety concerns with the children at the beginning of the school year. Assure yourself that students understand the precautions and proper safety practices. It also is necessary that you monitor the children�s activities for unsafe practices. Having the children and their parents
sign a safety contract emphasizes the importance of everyone contributing to a safe classroom environment. Martin (1997) suggests the focus should be on:
Cooperation between you and the children and among each other.
Orderly behavior reduces the likelihood of accidents.
Listening for your voice as they do their activities enables hem to hear additional instructions.
Common sense must be invoked at all times when dealing with science activities.
Students must be actively taught to be safe in the science classroom. Lesson plans should include details about the safe use of classroom materials and equipment, the location and proper operation of safety equipment, the rules for and responsibilities of students.
These lessons need to be tested and reinforced until all students have demonstrated proficiency. Safety considerations should become a part of each lesson plan that involves any possible hazards and students need to be instructed about avoiding them.
Safety goggles should be worn by children during all science activities which have any potential for liquid or solids accidentally getting into eyes. This includes all activities involving water, chemicals, projectiles or possible projectiles, rocks and minerals.
Eye protection equipment must meet ANSI Z87 safety standards. Look for the Z87 stamped on the item.
Do the lab or activity yourself first before you have the children do it.
Before starting an activity, take several minutes to review the procedures with the class.
Conduct a hazard review with the students. Focus on the dangers and consequences of what can happen if the procedures are not followed or not followed correctly.
Review emergency procedures to be taken if things go wrong.
Plants and Animals
Care should always be taken for living things brought into the classroom. However,
Some plants and animals may present hazards to individuals. For more detailed information, refer
to the following pages on this web site: Animals and Plants