Lab safety in chemistry is an essential skill to allow students to take part in Science and Engineering Principle 3: Planning and carrying out investigations. While my students would have seen the safety contract and taken a safety exam the previous year in Biology, the vast difference in lab experience calls for it to be renewed at the start of this year. As we will begin labs the second week of school, it's crucial to start to build these skills.
We also will begin to build our familiarity with the various equipment used in the lab, both via a walk-around and in students deciding which equipment they need for their skit.
An additional bonus to asking the students to create and perform skits on the safety rules is that I get to further build connections with students, identifying those who are more outgoing vs more introverted, who my performers are, and I get to analyze their writing skills on their scripts.
When students enter the class, I immediately ask for four volunteers. If there are not enough volunteers, I will choose students to get four total. I then ask one of the students to stand, and we go over their "Three Truths and a Lie" from day 1. To keep from the students inflecting their voice and tipping the lie, I do all the reading. We will repeat this with the other three students to continue to build community and engage students on the first Monday of the school year.
After Three Truths and a Lie, I pass out the Lab Equipment Walkaround paper. Around the lab are 24 pieces of lab equipment with numbered post-it notes. I point out the equipment and tell students that they need to match the equipment with the correct number, and sketch it in the correct box. I remind them that if they are not certain what something is, to ask before they fill in the wrong box.
I inform the students that when the music ends, they need to return to their seats. I will play 12 minutes of instrumental music while students are doing their walk-around. While they get started, I record my daily attendance in the computer and then circulate amongst them to help answer questions about the various equipment. I also distribute the Safety Skits paper to their seats so that students who finish early might start to read it.
I will collect the walk-around paper the following day after their skits. I want them to be able to refer to it while planning and scripting their skits.
When the music ends, I ask students to return to their seats and get out their copy of the Flinn Safety Contract.
I tell the students that they are responsible for passing the safety quiz in 4 days. Often, they will freak out as it is the second day of class and we're already talking about a quiz. I ask if they'd like some help with the safety rules. They usually respond positively, and I project the contract using the document camera.
Although there are 55 rules on the paper, some fit well together, and others don't matter to us at all. We start with the ones that don't matter. I have the students cross off the following rules: 20, 21, 28, 30, 34, 40, 42, and 55. I justify each one individually to the students, such as number 20 being a biology rule and we won't be working with living things. The one that I spend the most time on is 28.
Rule 28 states "If you or your lab partner are hurt, immediately yell out "Code one, code one" to get the instructor's attention." I pause and give an ironic look to the class. I have them cross out "Code one" and explain how to communicate that there is an accident or emergency by stating such, rather than just calling my name as if there is a question about the lab. I explain to the students that "Code One" doesn't mean anything to me, but "Mr Stadt, Giselle just cut herself" tells me that I need to be there immediately.
I ask students to keep out their contract, but to read the Chemistry Safety Skits paper at their table. Students will write and perform a short skit to act out both the incorrect and correct ways to behave in the lab. Once the class has finished reading through themselves, I give a quick overview. Students may be assigned one rule, two rules or three rules depending on which particular rules I assign them and if there are other closely related rules.
I point out that they must represent the rule incorrectly and correctly, and can be funny or serious. I ask students if they have questions about how to proceed. If there are none at this time, I walk around the room and have the students pull the papers with their rules from the hat. As soon as they have their rules, they can begin drafting their scripts.
Once students are writing their scripts, I pass around the Skit Sign Up form. This is provided so that I can track which students are presenting on which rule. It also will serve as my attendance sheet the following day when students are performing their skits.
As students work, I circulate the room to answer questions and check in on needed lab equipment for their skits.
Here are two student scripts, one is three pages, the other is much more concise. These were two of the best samples I received.