As a Science teacher there are, quite simply, some items you will frequently need which other teachers will not.
For me there are 20 essential items which I always keep stocked in my classroom:
1. Batteries (or cells if you are in teacher mode!) Science teaching brings with it one of my greatest joys – toys. Unfortunately, toys often require batteries and because of their usage patterns you can guarantee they will run out of juice at a crucial point in the lesson. I hold a stock of AAA, AA and D batteries in my classroom (bought in bulk). I get through 20-30 AAA a year. Just don’t let it be known that you have a stock – otherwise you will become the ‘go to’ person when other teachers projector remotes need a change of battery.
2. Screwdrivers Things will break. Science toys will need new batteries. The vandergraff will need a new belt in the middle of your lesson. All good reasons to have a screwdriver to hand. You must make sure they are named though or someone will walk off with them! Ensure you have Phillips head & flat in lots of sizes – including the tiny ones. I also have miniature screwdrivers for fixing glasses and have used them more times than I care to count!
3. Superglue Quite simply, it’s amazing what I’ve fixed over the years using superglue. Sheep skulls, a fossil, my lanyard, kids shoes… Always have superglue nearby!
4. First aid kit You’ll need lots of band aids (plasters) and eye wash. Make sure every kid knows where it is. I nearly made it an entire term without needing the first aid kit… and then I got a paper cut on the last day of term. Typical.
5. Latex gloves Moping up body fluid, the Goliath hand experiment, dissections & handling iron filings. My (actually latex free!) gloves come out at least once a month.
6. Electrical tape While everyone else swoons over washi tape I remain firm in my love for electrical tape. I’ll do a separate post on everything I use it for but I love this stuff!!
7. Spare bin bags (Trash Bags) As a science teacher you will be able to produce inordinate amounts of trash. Any STEAM/STEM activity will fill your bin to the brim. Therefore, I always keep spares. (And always be kind to your cleaner if they end up lugging it all away at the end of the day!)
8. Labels You need 3 types: permanent, removable & pretty ones. The removable ones are easily obtainable from science catalogues and are great for quickly labelling anything where you want to get the labels off quickly. (e.g.. temporarily labelling equipment for stations).
9. Permanent markers These will label anything. And if you want to remove it – you have the power – after all, you’re a science teacher with access to vast quantities of ethanol!
10. Washing up gloves (Marigolds) Man I hate all the washing up that comes with this job. Avoid dishpan hands. Get a decent pair of washing up gloves and label them.
11. Tea towel (Dish Towel) See point 10
12. Electric desk Fan At some point you will do an experiment which involves dead organs, candles or sulphur (sulfur). The room will stink but you won’t notice how bad until the next class comes in and starts to complain. Throw those windows open and get the fans blowing. Fans are also useful for speeding up evaporation practicals, wind turbine making and keeping teachers cool.
13. Long handled Lighter with spare gas Try lighting 30 candles in the space of 10 minutes with matches. Not pleasant. Traditional lighter? Don’t use it – your thumb will be crying within 5 uses from the friction and heat. Instead, get yourself ‘a clicker’. This long armed lighter is traditionally used for lighting BBQs. The great news is that even if it runs out of gas the friction spark (or ‘click’) can still be used to light your Bunsens. I have at least 3 on hand for pupils to share. All labelled of course! (are you seeing a trend?)
14. Dustpan & brush Broken glassware and sugar will end up on your floor at some point. I’ll take a bet on it. So make sure you have a quality dustpan & brush to hand. You may even want a separate one for broken glassware which is stored next to your glassbin.
15. Glass bin No cleaner deserves to risk themselves because little Suzy managed to brush a record 3 thermometers off her desk in one lesson. Invest in a designated glassbin.
16. Elastic bands I’m sure kids with long hair only forget to tie their hair back on the days I get out the Bunsen or candles!! Despite having a termly homework reminding them to put hair ties/clips in their pencil cases there is always one child who forgets. If I’m feeling mean I’ll hand out an elastic band, if I’m kind, they’ll get one of the bands I purchased on the cheap from Poundland.
17. Spare clothes I don’t care how good your lab coat is, at some point the coke and mentos experiment will go wrong and attempt to drown you. Be prepared. Even if it’s just an old t-shirt & jogging bottoms. But don’t forget underwear. Seriously – I’ve needed to change 3 times in my career and every time I dragged the clothes out of my car boot I was ultra thankful for my incredible foresight.
18. Spare paper towel Somehow, I go through heaps of the stuff. I have a rule: always keep spares. This is especially when the whole class washes their hands. I do have a hand washing towel available but it needs relaxing daily too. Papertowel is also ultra useful for the inevitable spills. I cozy up to my cleaner at the start of term and ask for spares to toss in a cupboard.
19. Towel This is the most versatile bit of kit I keep. It can be used as a blanket for a kid in shock, to roll up under a twisted ankle, to dry off after the mentos & coke incident of 2010, to mop up an epic-sized spill, rolled up against the bottom of the door to keep smoke inside the classroom thus avoiding setting off the alarms in the hallway…. Clean towels are ultra useful.
20. Mobile phone My mobile phone is also known as: (in no particular order) the emergency calculator, spell checker, phone to the office when a kid is sick, music player, unit converter, projector remote, countdown timer, attendance checker, Plickers device, stop clock, noise level monitor, camera…
My 20 must-haves for all Science Teachers. I’m sure you’ll have your own to add to the list though! Let me know if I’ve missed one or two items off!
Love, cuddles & death stares,