The study of Physical Sciences is not possible without a laboratory. In laboratory the science teacher provides students an opportunity to observe facts and carry out experiments so that they may obtain proper and complete knowledge of the subject. The students work in the laboratory by themselves, observe, and on the basis of these, they try to deduce conclusions.
Meaning of Laboratory
The word ‘Laboratory’ is used for a large room where practical classes are conducted and a group of students carry out practicals. ‘Science laboratory’ provides instruments, apparatus, chemicals and other materials safe and secure and ready for use. Various types of apparatus and material are placed in shelves or almirah under lock and key. The environment and the setting of the laboratory encourages students’ participation. Laboratories help in the development of a sense of cooperation and a spirit of competition.
Objectives of Laboratory
(1) To develop scientific attitude among children through practical work in the laboratory.
(2) To develop the skill in handling scientific apparatus, installments and equipments.
(3) To provide opportunity for the training in scientific, method.
(4) To help students in developing the of cooperation resourcefulness, initiative, self-dependence, self-confidence, cohesion, sociability, self-reliance, and self-discipline.
(5) To provide real and stable knowledge of science.
(6) To provide opportunities to think, observe, apply reason to arrive at a decision/conclusion independently.
(7) To encourage students to save the time, resources as well as energy.
(8) To arrange an atmosphere conducive to learning science.
(9) To enable the students to interpret and verify the various scientific principles.
Planning A Science Laboratory
The Govt. of India, Committee on Plan Projects : In its report on Science Education in secondary schools, laid down that the following factors should be taken into consideration at the planning stage for the laboratory :
(l) The number of students working at a time in the laboratory.
(2) The minimum space necessary for every student for com fortble working.
(3) Limitation of number of science teacher in secondary schools.
(4) Need for ancillary accommodation for storage.
(5) Designing the science-classroom and laboratory in such a way that it could be used for science teaching.
(6) Imperative need for economy.
Organization of Laboratory
The laboratory should have a preparation room, store room, science room and dark room for organised teaching of physical sciences. In the preparation room of laboratory such apparatus are collected which are to be used in the laboratory. In this room apparatus for daily experiments are kept. The laboratory assistant or the teacher can prepare the experiment in the ‘preparation room’. In this are used various apparatus likenails, rings, screws, glass tubes, jars, ropes, pipes and various tools. Physical Science related apparatus and articles are stored in the store room which is generally inside the laboratory. This room should be kept locked. There should be one door opening in the ‘science room’. The articles should be properly arranged in large glass almirahs.
The various articles should be labelled. There should be proper light and ventilation. In the ‘science room’ the teacher demonstrates the practical/experiment. The seating arrangement in this room should be such, so that all the students can watch the experiment clearly. The seats should be as in theatre, i.e., in ascending order lower in front to higher at the back. There should be proper arrangement of light. The windows should have dark curtains so that the room can be darkened as and when required. The teacher’s table should be big enough to place all the apparatus in front of the students. There should be a blackboard at the back or towards the left, which the teacher can use whenever required. There should be pictures of scientists on the walls. The ‘dark room’ is permanently dark but ventilated.
Types of Physical Science Laboratories in Schools
Various types of laboratories are shown in the following diagramme :
Laboratories For High Schools
At high school level in our country there are three types of science labs. They are :
(B) All purpose laboratory
(C) Lecture Theatre-cum-laboratory.
(A) Lecture-Room-Cum Laboratory
Now it is adopted as one of the standard plan for High Schools. It is an economical plan very much suitable to Indian conditions. It is more beneficial in developing science climate as well as more convenient for the students and teachers.
(1) The Lay Out : In this plan, it is suggested to have a room of 45’x25′ for a class. It should be partitioned into two equal compartments, one of which may be used as the lecture room and the other, for laboratory purpose. This lecture room can accommodate 40 to 50 students. In the laboratory 20 to 25 students can work for the science practicals.
(2) Walls and Floor : Walls and floor of the lecture room-cum-laboratory should be tough and durable. The thickness of the walls should be equal to 1=1/1 feet. The walls should be well-plastered and painted upto a height of 90 cm. and rest be white washed or distempered. The floor should be cemented or tiled with a proper drainage system. There should be round corners between the walls and floor to avoid dirt lodging. A slight slope in the floor is better so that the water may be swept easily.
(3) Doors : For getting more sunlight and fresh air the rooms should have doors facing north. There should be two doors, one near the lecture room and another near the laboratory. These should open outwards as it saves the space and is also convenient for emergency exist. One door may be used for entrance and another for exit. Whatever plan is adopted, a rigid observance of the rules of entrance and exit is a must. There can also be a door connecting both the apartments, i.e., lecture room and laboratory.
(4) Windows : Three windows each 6′ x 8′ x 8 should be provided on the side opposite to the doors. Out of these, one should be near the practical benches and two of these should be near the seating accommodation. The windows should open outwards so that their inner sills may be used as shelves. Wire gauze screens should be fitted to avoid flies and mosquitoes etc. Provision should be made for the window blinds for darkening the room required for various experiments. Adequate arrangements for ventilations should be made as proper ventilation is necessary. The windows and doors should have glass panes to bring sky-light in the laboratory.