Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Timmy Made Mistakes

Lab Safety

K20 Center, Alexandra Parsons | Published: June 8th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Science
  • Course Course Biology I, Biology II, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physical Science, Physics
  • Time Frame Time Frame 1-2 class period(s)
  • Duration More 60 minutes


Students will identify common lab mistakes via simulated lab stations.

Essential Question(s)

Why is lab safety so important?



Students will observe and comment on teacher lab demonstration or lab video.


Students will identify issues with lab set-ups around the room.


Students will discuss the issues with the demo and set-ups and how they can be fixed.


Students will create either a comic strip or rap about lab safety.


Students will present their creations.


  • Various lab supplies (preferably the ones you'll use most frequently)

  • A drink or snack (Engage)

  • Damaged lab ware such as chipped glassware, device with exposed wires, enough for 4-6 unique stations (Explore)

  • Copies of Explore handout; enough for one per student (Explore)

  • Colored pencils or markers (Extend)

  • Copies of comic strip templates; probably enough for two thirds of the students (Extend)


Go to slide 2, The teacher will demonstrate careless lab behavior in the classroom. For example, wearing safety goggles on forehead, smelling chemicals directly, eating and drinking in the lab, etc.

Allow students to Think, Pair, Share with each other. Allow some quiet thinking time, then discuss with each other, then share out what they observed that went wrong, and maybe even a few things that went right.

Go to slide 3 and click on the image to show the Amoeba Sisters General Lab Safety video.


Place students into groups of no more than four, Go to slide 4 - give each student a copy of the explore wkst handout and send them around in a modified Gallery Walk to observe each station. Less is more, set a timer for each station rotation to keep students engaged and on-task!

A variety of lab 'situations' should be at the lab stations. Each situation will have something that violates lab safety. Ideas could be:

  • a station with a chemical spilled everywhere (sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, is safe to consume *even though it doesn't taste that great* and is cheap, but is just an unknown white powder if you didn't know any better)

  • a station with an electrical device that has exposed wires

  • a hot plate on, but unattended

  • biological material left out and not disposed of

  • also subtle things like a thermometer left in a beaker or glassware, and not left on the bench top

  • microscopes left in the highest magnitude instead of the lowest

  • scoopulas left in the chemicals

  • Really anything that is a common error that students make that compromises safety


Go to slide 5 ask students to share their answers. Take the idea further and ask students why the items they listed would be considered unsafe. This would be a good time, if you didn't pause the Amoeba Sisters video, to point out the safety features of your classroom. ie: fire extinguisher, sharps box, eyewash station, MSDS location, etc.


Go to slide 6 allow students to summarize what they've learned about lab safety by either creating a comic (see image below) or piece of music.

A four and a five square blank comic strip is provided in the handouts. It's up to you to choose how complicated you want their finished product to be.