A myriad of factors are involved in a successful school science lab refurbishment. Getting these wrong can result in a lab which is not fit for purpose or may even potentially be unsafe, so it is important to choose an expert contractor. Tecomak Furniture Solutions have decades of experience in designing and installing science labs in educational establishments, from simple refurbishments to completely new installations. This means we've seen it all before and can guard against any pitfalls.
Here are just a few common design mistakes we have come across over the years, and can help you avoid. Any of these is a sign that an existing science lab needs refurbishment to give optimum performance.
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1. Insufficient space for storage and preparation
A school science lab can be seen as a type of theatre where only some of the props, including equipment and chemicals, are needed at any one time. This means that, without adequate storage space, the lab can become unduly cluttered with equipment that has no proper home, taking up valuable space needed by students and teachers.
Having to prepare experiments within a classroom may mean the lab cannot be used for other lessons. To avoid this, technicians need space to prepare materials and demonstrations away from the main teaching area. Sometimes, materials are hazardous or fragile and need to be locked away safely. Space planning can help to create a prep area and/or locked storage space, meaning that your science laboratory refurbishment meets all these storage needs.
2. No storage for coats and bags
This may be a mundane issue, but can significantly affect the running of a science classroom. Coats and bags left on benches or chairs create clutter and can be dangerous if there are chemicals, Bunsen burners or other equipment in use. A tidy lab is essential for the safety of all students.
3. No lighting control
Some experiments require blackout conditions, for instance light experiments during physics lessons, while many others benefit from dimmed lighting. Lack of adequate window blinds can therefore limit the number of experiments and their impact. It is also essential to be able to darken the room if you intend to use projectors for teaching. Existing window blackouts can become torn or tatty, but this issue is easily solved with the installation of properly designed blackout blinds.
4. Broken furniture
Daily use by students can put ordinary benching and seating under great strain. Wobbly stools and chipped worktops can be a safety issue, as well as generally giving a poor impression. Educational establishments are always under pressure to save costs, so it can be tempting to choose the cheapest furnishings, but this may end up costing more if such items wear out quickly. Tecomak uses quality materials, while at the same time bearing in mind your need to stick to a budget.
5. Broken utilities
Broken power or gas outlets pose a safety risk and can have severe impact on teaching, meaning that students have to share the remaining stations. This limits involvement and engagement in lessons. Leaking taps can also damage the effectiveness of a lab. Of course, breakage can be down to misuse, but selection of appropriately rugged materials should mean they will be able to withstand everyday use.
6. Layout problems
In some labs laid out like traditional classrooms, only students at the front are able to see properly when the teacher demonstrates an experiment. This can create problems with engagement and potentially with discipline, as well as making it hard for all students to gain a full understanding of curriculum. This type of layout can also make collaborative working in small groups difficult to achieve.
Changing the room's layout to suit the subject being taught and the number of students can solve the problem. We will consult with you over space planning at the outset of the lab design, and look at the range of options available. Horseshoe or circular arrangements of laboratory benching are becoming increasingly popular, while a raised area at the front of a class can aid visibility.
7. No IT facilities
Computers and laptops are now frequently included in science lessons, but some older labs do not have the space and power or data connections needed. Power connections in the room may be adequate for actual science kit, such as oscilloscopes, but not for additional computers used by both staff and students. Upgrading power and data connections can easily be achieved as part of a wider science laboratory refurbishment and can transform what is possible within the classroom.
8. Design flaws
Sometimes design flaws only become clear once a lab is in use and problems start to arise. This could include siting overhead storage cabinets over a lab bench, but placing them too low, meaning Bunsen burners cannot be safely used on that bench. Putting services in the wrong place, where they cannot easily be accessed by all students, is another design problem. Proper initial consultation over a lab redesign can avoid this type of problem arising.
With many years of experience of carrying out lab design and refurbishment projects, Tecomak can work with you to ensure your lab will perform well for many years to come. We have a professional in-house team who will help you to avoid any potential problems and ensure satisfaction.
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