Science Practical’s & Social Distancing

7 Top Tips for Technicians…


With some year groups returning to school from the 1st June, the need for schools to implement social distancing practices in science lessons effectively and efficiently will be vital to ensuring maximum safety for both students and teachers. Core practicals could be delivered under these circumstances, but to ensure the safest delivery, close collaboration between teachers and technicians is more important than ever.

It is clear from government guidelines that the return will be phased, with reduced class sizes and observing the 2m social distancing rule. CLEAPSS has produced a guide ‘GL343 – CLEAPSS Guide to doing practical work in a partially reopened school – Science – Ver. 1.3 – 13th May 2020’ which we recommend is read together with any other guidance given by your school/employer. This guidance is offered at the time of press and as things are changing daily it may need to be reviewed accordingly.

CLEAPSS clearly advises that workstations are marked and allocated in line with social distancing regulations – remember all guidance is general so you will need to consider the location, size, and layout of your laboratories and preparation rooms.

Each activity will need to be discussed to make sure it can be delivered safely with the available resources. Remember that time management is especially important as students will be working individually with distant support, therefore setting up, delivery, and clearing up will take longer than usual.

TIP 1.

Practical equipment will need to be set up for individual students at allocated workstations – preparing this in advance in trays and asking students to place everything back in the tray at the end will save time clearing up.

TIP 2.

Many electronic balances also work on batteries which avoid trailing leads and allows more space, reducing the need to have the workstation near electrical sockets.
Check and replace batteries as they have not been used for months. This will be true for all other battery-operated equipment such as stopclocks, ammeters, voltmeters, and multi-meters.

TIP 3.

If possible, in physics, use battery packs instead of power supplies (requiring less space and reducing trailing leads). When using power supplies mask the AC terminals if not required to make it easier for students.

TIP 4.

To reduce movement across a space, provide students with sufficient equipment at their workstations such as extra beakers, test-tubes, pipettes, or spatulas.

If you need to top up or replenish your glassware supplies, Timstar have some great ranges for you to check out:

TIP 5.

Provide simple, clear instructions (laminated sheets) at each station where required. Lamination will make cleaning your worksheets much easier and will help reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

TIP 6.

Microscale – introduce microscale procedures which are safer than the original demonstrations because of their size, reducing space and waste: https://microchemuk.weebly.com/

TIP 7.

Projecting an experiment onto a screen using a Visualiser will enable teachers to demonstrate to the entire class, whilst socially distancing. Not to mention the added value of techniques such as time-lapse demonstrations and recording outcomes.

Take a look at Timstars visualisers…

Don’t forget! to follow all safety instructions as per guidance.

Still thinking about back to school?

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