Let’s face it: teaching lab safety rules isn’t all that exciting. I know that teaching lab safety is incredibly important, but does it make my students shout with joy? Definitely not! Instead of drudging through the content, I’ve found ways to make lab safety activities more engaging and exciting. Now, I want to share them with you!
Activities for Teaching Lab Safety Rules
#1 Scavenger Hunt
Have students pair up to hunt for all of the lab safety equipment in your classroom. You can make a checklist they need to complete or leave clues around the room. Get inventive!
We know that middle schoolers are competitive, so use this to your advantage. Make the scavenger hunt into a game so students are more interested in locating the items and learning lab safety rules.
#2 Choice boards
Choice boards are a creative and hands-on way to talk about lab safety equipment and rules. I give my students a board with nine options of lab safety activities they can choose from, like creating a brochure, writing a rap, filming a video, or making a game for the class to play.
If you want a ready-to-go lab safety choice board, check out this resource, which also includes task cards and lab safety warm ups.
#3 Lab Safety Skits
Middle schoolers love to be the star of the show, so let them literally put on a show. Break students up into small groups and have them perform lab safety skits. You can even turn this into a game of charades where students act out safe and unsafe practices, and the class has to guess. Encourage your students to make them funny and silly to get the whole class engaged.
#4 Escape Rooms
Creating an escape room can take some extra time and attention, but it’s definitely worth it. Students love a good challenge, and escape rooms provide just that. Give them a couple of lab safety activities to work through. As they complete an activity, they should uncover a code, letter, or number that will be used to solve the escape room.
You can intertwine questions about where lab safety equipment is located and different lab safety rules. This is a good way to assess how much students know.
#5 Relay Race
Again, middle schoolers love competition. Challenge them to a relay, like how quickly can you make a lab environment safe? Or how quickly can you put on lab safety equipment such as an apron, goggles, or gloves? You can even have other students “judge” how well their classmates performed, which reinforces the rules that they’ve learned. Win-win!
#6 Gallery Walk
One of my favorite ways to help students to recognize all those lab safety symbols is through a gallery walk using task cards. I tape the cards around the room, give students an answer sheet, and one minute to answer each question. This takes about 25 minutes, and then we review the answers together. I use these lab safety task cards for this activity.
#7 Online Games
Bring in some tech and have students play a Quizziz, Kahoot, Blooket, or Jeopardy game to review lab safety rules. You can find pre-made games on many of these platforms, which will save you time when planning.
This is a perfect lab safety activity to end your unit on or to review and refresh throughout the school year.
#8 Classroom Debate
Who doesn’t love playing devil’s advocate? Put students into teams and give them different lab safety rules to debate, such as why it’s important to wear closed-toe shoes or whether or not goggles should be necessary. You can also have students research if you want to take this debate to the next level.
I hope with these lab safety activities, you’ll be able to have fun and keep students engaged as they learn lab safety rules this school year.