Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Classroom

The walls are cinder block with a pale blue coat of paint, probably chosen as a combination of inoffensive, durable and cheap. Standard drop ceiling with fluorescent lighting, though there are windows to the outside for some natural lighting as well. The room has two doors leading into it from the hallway, both situated on the same wall but on opposite ends. In between the doors are the safety shower and eye wash station, the fume hood for the classroom and a black, chemical-resistant countertop with a bookshelf that held a row of old textbooks.

The next wall clockwise from the entrances was set up as the front of the room. This wall had the blackboard, a small one with two movable sections over a third, and the projector screen. On the side of this wall nearest to the entrances was a door to a small office, while on the other end of the wall was a door to the chemical supply closet. This wall also features the fire extinguisher for the room, of the ABC type (so, no protection from a metal fire, but the teacher would have to do some work for that to be even possible) right next to the door to the office. In front of this wall is a demo bench for the instructor, a wide counter with a sink, faucet and gas hookups to one side. There is a separate desk that has been pushed next to the demo bench to provide the teacher with more space, this is also where the hookup for the projector happens to be. In the corner farthest from the entrance are an old television, a computer station that the instructor uses to take attendance, and the old overhead projector.

The two other walls are dedicated to lab spaces, with six peninsular counters, three to a wall, meant to accommodate four students each. Each lab counter has a sink in the middle with two faucets and four gas hookups for each faucet. The faucets are set up to be able to run suction filtration if desired. Below the counter top are six drawers on a side where basic lab supplies (large flasks, graduated cylinders, test tube brushes and the like) are kept, along with the students’ goggles. Along the wall in between the peninsulas is more counter space, under which is where students keep communal lab aprons. There is a corner space defined by the counters and the walls where the carts containing the materials for whatever lab the class is working on tend to hang out, and the countertop along the wall of this area is where the drying oven, the sharps box and the ring stands with buret clamps live.

The whole room is decorated with a collection of posters, mostly Flinn Safety posters with cartoon animals illustrating proper and improper laboratory procedure but with several large periodic tables of the elements and some science-oriented cartoons with the required corny jokes.

The office connected to the classroom has bookshelves piled high with old textbooks and solutions manuals, AP prep stuff, PSAE and ACT prep stuff, and handouts and other materials from previous years. There’s a counter with a small fridge on top, where Mr. CT keeps lunch and bottles of 30% hydrogen peroxide solution, a separated file cabinet containing exclusively Mr. CT’s materials from Chem 1 and AP Chem classes that he has taught previously, and a small desk, which has been given for my use. There’s also a door to the chemical supply room. The chemical supply room is long and thin, with the walls lined with low counter top cabinets and wooden chemical storage shelves. One side is dedicated to reagents and the other used for mixed solutions and material for labs. In addition to standard reagent bottles and containers are many baby food jars for the distribution of small amounts of chemicals for labs. The reagent side is organized along the Flinn safety storage guide, with appropriate areas of the shelves labeled. There is a separate small acid cabinet and flammables cabinet. Rounding out the collection are various glassware in areas separated from the chemicals.

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