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When thinking about creating a home science lab for their kids, parents often have to give up. It seems to them that it is too complicated and traumatic for a kid. We asked the experts at gpalabs.com for advice on creating a chemistry lab for children at home.
Conditions for creating a home science lab
If the word lab makes you think of a spacious room with a fume hood, glass appliances, ovens, pumps, and tall cabinets full of utensils and reagents, you are mistaken. It’s not an option for a child, no matter how much they want to look like the heroes of Breaking Bad.
The laboratory we offer you will occupy only one corner of a room unless you have a free one you want to transform into a kids’ lab. Our lab will look like a table with a couple of shelves on the wall. Before you start arranging a spot, you have to make sure that you have clarified the conditions with your child:
- They promise you to be using their science lab at least a couple of times per week
- We must keep it clean and wash everything after experiments
- They must stick to the safety rules and wear special protection
Arrangement of the laboratory workspace
It is desirable to put a desk close to a window so that there is good lighting. In addition, if you work near a window, it is easier to ventilate the room. If there is no space by the window, take care of electric lighting. In any case, keep in mind that your child should not do experiments in a half-dark room!
No matter how carefully your children conduct experiments, the table can get splashes of solutions, spills of powders. To avoid trouble, to protect the table, put on it a sheet of protective plywood or other similar protective material.
Your child will find it convenient to store materials for experiments on a shelf above the table or in a desk drawer. If this is not possible, try to allocate some place where your child can stack utensils and reagents close to the desk. Don’t let them scatter chemicals around the room!
If you can not buy a table or you do not have a spare one at home, you can attach a board to the wall on special mounts. Take care of a comfortable chair in front of the work surface.
Consider your child’s safety first when creating a home science lab and buy the following items:
- a thick (preferably rubber) apron;
- rubber gloves;
- safety glasses.
As for utensils, it would be best to get hold of real test tubes, flasks, chemical beakers, and crucibles. However, if you do not have the opportunity to buy everything you need, you can construct everything from improvised materials. However, it is better to buy test tubes that are suitable for experiments, especially if you plan to heat them. At first, the child will not need more than ten pieces.
Sometimes, test tubes have to be heated, and, of course, they cannot be held with your bare hands. We probably will not find a better holder for tubes than a wooden clothespin. The clothespin can be lengthened by attaching a stick or a piece of thick wire to one of its forks. It is not difficult to make a holder out of thick, soft wire, but don’t forget to wrap it with insulating tape on end, which your child will grab by hand.
A special tripod is not required for most experiments. It is useful to make a tripod stand for test tubes, so you don’t have to hold them for long periods of time. The simplest tripod is a bar in which the holes are drilled, not through. It needs a diameter slightly larger than the diameter of test tubes.
Safety in your home science lab
Chemical utensils can also serve as a variety of bottles and jars from under the drugs. These are usually closed with polyethylene plugs. These plugs are very convenient because they are standard and fit many bottles. But the main thing is that polyethylene is chemically resistant. It is not destroyed even under the action of concentrated acid solutions and many organic solvents. Therefore, in bottles with polyethylene stoppers, you can store such reagents, from which, over time, the rubber stoppers are destroyed.
Whatever container you choose for storing substances should be tightly closed. A label should always be glued to it. The simplest label is made of a band-aid. It sticks easily to dry glass and is easy to write on with a ballpoint pen; when the writing fades, it’s easy to update it. You can also make a paper label by gluing it and covering it with transparent adhesive tape.
If your child is working with flammable materials and fire, make sure there is a fire extinguisher near their lab. Also make sure they know how to use it. After setting up the lab, walk your child through the instructions and do some experiments with them to see if they understand you or not.