Winning Elementary Safety Tips

The following are the winning elementary safety tips. All winners will receive a copy of NSTA's Safety in the Elementary Science Classroom. Thank you to everyone who submitted entries.

Christy Flynn, Olla Elementary School, Olla, La.:

I have a poster hanging in my room that lists basic safety tips. When we do activities we review these as well as specific safety rules for that activity. On my poster the rules are:

1. Read the instructions twice before beginning the activity.
2. Explain the directions in your own words to your partner or team.
3. Get only the materials that are listed.
4. Follow the instructions one step at a time.
5. If you make a mistake stop and ask for help.
6. Remember, we learn from experiments that do and don't turn out like we expect.
7. Clean your area thoroughly.

Sue Harden, San Mateo, Calif.:

Whenever students are working in a group and using pointed objects (scissors, probes, etc.) I preface the lesson this way:

Only your brain knows where your hands are and where they are going. Never "help" someone by holding what another person is cutting. If you are holding the scissors you must also be holding the object. Your hands are designed to work with each other and with your brain for safety. My hand is not a part of that safety system. So it is not safe for me to get in the middle of your system.

Kaur Khushwinder, Art Freiler Elementary School, Tracy, Calif.:

To view the science lab safety rules, visit:

Judy Lemons, Hannibal, Mo.:

1. Avoid use of glass in primary science.

2. Have a plan—know what you are going to do in case of a science-related accident

3. Think of all the possible risks or problems associated with a science experiment (e.g., Could this plant cause any kind of reaction?, Are any students allergic to mold?, or What happens if the bugs get loose?), and then make plans to reduce any possible problem. Also implement #2 above.

Marjorie Wallace, Elementary Science Resource Teacher, Newport News, Va.:

Staff is looking at a very simple safety contract that is posted in the classroom, reviewed before every hands-on/minds-on activity, reviewed in class, and sent home to be signed and reviewed by the guardian/parents and child.

The 10 most significant or highlighted are:

-wear safety goggles (protect eyes, face, hands, and body);
-follow all directions explicitly;
-never touch things with wet hands;
-report accidents to the teacher immediately;
-ask questions if I don't understand;
-practice good housekeeping rules;
-never "horse around" or throw things across the room;
-tie back all loose and long hair;
-never put magnets mear computers; and
-keep my equipment safe and clean.