Ranging from general science know-how to perfecting your skills, these science technicians prep room tips will help you make the most out of everyday science apparatus and save you precious time.
1. Microscale Diffusion of Potassium Permanganate Crystals
Laminated sheets with a 2p-sized circle with a line down the middle. Tiny circle to the left. Students fill the large circle with cold water using a pipette. Place one crystal in the tiny circle. Using the pipette, push the crystal to the edge of the droplet—do not agitate the droplet—start the stop clock. Time how long it takes for the purple colour to reach the line. Repeat steps 1–4 with warm water.
— Winning tip for our #TECHOGNITION competition winner, Sharen Cordy, Orchard School
2. Tired of Losing Crocodile Clips?
We’ve made crocodile clip leads by soldering one end of the lead to a crocodile clip. We have barely lost any crocodile clips since!
— Rebecca Quinton, Tring School
3. Keep Chemicals Organised
Colour code the tops of dropper bottles for chemicals so they’re easy to sort out at the end of lessons.
— Leslie Aspey, The Maelor School
4. The Power of Colour Coding
We have laminated lab request sheets (colour coded for different days) so we can write on them then wipe off later—the teachers can also write comments or feedback too.
— Andrew Beal, Highdown School and Sixth Form
5. Nichrome Wire Hack
When filing syringes with sand water and air to show solids, liquids and gases under pressure, use a piece of nichrome wire down the side of the plunger to release all the air, then pull the wire out leaving no air inside.
— Kate Bright, Overton Grange School
6. Remove Permanent Marker Stains
Use a dry wipe marker to remove permanent marker from petri dishes you’ve already marked for pouring agar. Wipe with paper towel. Works a treat!
— Lisa McMillan, West College
Use 1% sodium chloride solution to separate food dyes in chromatography.
— Emma Pringle, King Edwards VI High School
8. Get Clearer Results with 1% Salt Solution
Running felt tip chromatography (or any ink chromatography) with 1% salt solution gives much better separation and clearer results.
— Chris Hardie, Kingston Grammar School
9. Say Goodbye to Cross-Contamination
Attach a test tube to the side of reagent bottles with a rubber band and put a pipette in the tube. This is great for preventing cross-contamination of chemicals in lessons.
— Lynn Hill, Malmesbury School
10. Keep Crocodile Clips Tangle-free and Organised
Use wire coat hangers to keep 4mm wires with crocodile clips in order. Label the coat hanger using a sticky label with the length of the wire, and clip the wires to the bottom part of the coat hanger to easily keep different length wires together.
— Andrew Davy, John Whitgift Academy
11. Remove Stubborn Stains
To clean the red stain out of test tubes after positive Benedict’s reagent tests, place them in the dishwasher the right way up, so they collect the water. Then, wash them again the normal way up—this seems to remove 99% of the red staining.
— Karen Fox, King James’ School
12. Cell Division Like a Pro
For excellent cell division when doing the root tip garlic practical, add 8 drops of baby bio to 500ml of water a few days beforehand.
— Sharon Coling, Bilton School
13. Washing Up Liquid Hack
Use a cork borer and some washing up liquid to help insert thermometers into bungs.
— April Layzell, Aylesford School
14. Storage Hack
Buy multi-section craft boxes to store Locktronics equipment. Easy to count back in and minimises breakages.
— Margaret Haran, Congleton High School
15. Another Use for a Compression Spring
Use a compression spring as a drying stand for microscope slides.
— Glynis Powell, Saltash.net Community School
16. Keep a Photo Library
Make a photo library of practical setups. This will help enable you to set up difficult practicals or those which are only done annually—particularly physics.
— Victoria Wootton, Stafford Grammar School
17. And Finally…
Use washing up liquid as a lubricant for bungs and tubing!
— Kate Moore, Worth School