Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Article excerpt

Finding Funding and Securing Swag

You may be fortunate enough to work with a big budget and well-stocked science lab. For many new teachers, however, scrimping, saving, and spending one's own money on equipment and teaching tools are the norm. You may be surprised to learn that an overwhelming amount of free equipment and funding are out there for teachers--if you know where to look. Here are some tips for getting it.

Create community connections

For secondhand laboratory equipment, your neighbors can be your greatest allies. Recently, a local biotech company offered to donate several big-ticket items, including a used incubator, centrifuge, electronic balances, micropipettes, and a host of consumable materials like pipette tips. A local university was upgrading to newer equipment and donated 20 spectrophotometers to area high schools. Area hospitals can have used equipment and materials as well.

(Safety note: When accepting chemicals, be sure they are safe for classroom use and actually needed; accepting certain chemicals [such as those containing mercury or other hazardous materials] might create a disposal problem later. Also, confirm that donated equipment is in good condition; defects like frayed electrical wires or sharp metal edges can create unsafe conditions.)

Also consider asking parents on back-to-school night if anyone works in a science field. Beside donations, you might find opportunities for new guest speakers or field trips. If nothing else, consider distributing a list of common but inexpensive consumable items or classroom supplies that parents could consider donating and sending in with their children.

Need living (or once-living) organisms for your biology class? Your local butcher or fishmonger might provide organs or whole fish for dissection, though it's important to practice safe handling techniques, since these can carry E. coli and salmonella (Texley, Kwan, and Summers 2004).

Scour the web

The internet is another source of potential connections. Consider creating an online wish list at (see "On the web"). Teachers post descriptions of class projects, and donors worldwide can pledge money to provide the necessary equipment. Ebay has literally thousands of microscope-related items for sale, but be cautious: As with other online auctions, check seller feedback ratings and beware of deals too good to be true. …

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