ODWS icon

The Open Door Web Site




Working in the Laboratory Index

Laboratory Rules Quiz (opens in a new tab or window)
The Bunsen Burner
Scientific Apparatus
Question about Scientific Apparatus (opens in a new tab or window)

Biology Practical Work index


How to Work in a Biology Laboratory

The laboratory is a classroom with a difference. You will find that in science classes you will receive lessons where you will work at your place on your bench. You will also find yourself doing practical work in the laboratory. In practical work we will be carrying out observations or doing experiments to test your ideas.


Practical work in a laboratory (photo by Paul Billiet)


Practical work is interesting and you will learn to use the methods and equipment that a scientist uses.

Some of the experiments that you will do are very precise and delicate. Some of the chemicals and equipment that you will use could be dangerous if you do not use them properly. If you are careful, however, there will be no risk and the results of your investigations will be accurate.


Chemicals used by students during certain practicals


During practical work you will carry out experiments and make observations.

So that your work in the laboratory is safe and interesting we have a number of rules in the laboratory. You will see they are not rules to stop you from enjoying science, they are rules which make sense.



If you think you have learnt these rules test yourself by trying the
Laboratory Rules Quiz

(Opens in new window)


Custom Search

Laboratory Rules

Arrow Do not enter the laboratory unless your teacher is present.

Arrow When you do come into the laboratory walk to your place calmly. If you run you are sure to bump into someone - and if he is carrying equipment there could be an accident.

Students wearing white science overalls and their long hair is tied back.

Arrow At your place take out your writing materials, file and text book. Put your bag under the bench and put your coat out of the way in a clean area. Do not leave anything lying beside your bench; someone is sure to fall over it.

Arrow Always wear a white laboratory jacket made of cotton. This is most important as the laboratory jacket will stop your clothes from getting dirty or burnt.

Arrow If you have long hair make sure that you have an elastic band or a hair clip to tie it back. This will help to keep it out of the way which is much safer.

A scientist preparing to use a Bunsen burner by putting on safety glasses.

Arrow Wear safety spectacles to protect your eyes when you are using chemicals such as acids and when you are boiling liquids or heating solids.

Arrow On your bench you find a water tap and a sink.

A sink in the laboratory

The laboratory is not as clean as a cafeteria, so do not drink from the taps in the laboratory. Also do not eat in the laboratory. After you have been doing practical work, especially if you have been handling animals or chemicals, wash your hands carefully.

Arrow You will also find a gas tap on your bench. This is for use with the Bunsen burner. Sometimes you will need to heat things and that is what the Bunsen burner is used for. Your teacher will show you how to use one properly. When you are not using a Bunsen burner the gas tap should be turned off all the time.

The mains gas tap

The main gas tap, which you will find in each laboratory, should be switched off too.

Arrow The third thing that you will find on your bench is an electricity socket.


The electric socket


This is found at the other end of the bench to the sink because water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If you use the electricity on your bench, for example when you use a lamp, make sure that the bench is dry.

arrow Some practical investigations are wet, so drops of water can spread all over the bench and your papers. It is a good idea to remove everything that you do not need from your bench during practical work. You will only need a pencil or a pen to write with, a piece of paper for your results and the instructions. The instructions can be kept safe in a plastic wallet.

arrow If you do, accidentally, spill liquids on your bench, wipe them up with paper towel. REMEMBER the sink is not a waste bin. Put your waste paper in the plastic waste bin at the front of the laboratory.

The metal waste bin and the plastic waste bin

arrow If you should break a piece of glassware, such as a test tube, ask your teacher for a brush and dustpan to clean it up. Put the pieces of broken glass in the metal waste bin at the front of the laboratory.

arrow When you do a practical investigation you will need to collect equipment and materials from the front of the laboratory. Never carry too much equipment at once and always look where you are going.

arrow If you should have an accident always tell your teacher.

arrow When you have finished a practical investigation always leave your bench clean and dry. You can rinse and clean your test tubes in the sink but do not put solid objects down the sink, they will block it. Return all your equipment to the trolley or the teacher's bench at the front of the laboratory.

arrow When you leave the laboratory take all your belongings with you and make sure that everything is turned off (gas tap, water tap).

arrow From time to time there will be a fire drill in the school. If you are in a laboratory when this happens stop your experiment immediately. Switch off everything and WALK out of the laboratory calmly. Leave your belongings in the laboratory; your teacher will lock up the room so that they are safe.


The Open Door Web Site is non-profit making. Your donations help towards the cost of maintaining this free service on-line.

Donate to the Open Door Web Site using PayPal







© The Open Door Team 2017
Any questions or problems regarding this site should be addressed to the webmaster

© Paul Billiet, Shirley Burchill, Alan Damon and Deborah James 2017

Hosted By
Web Hosting by HostCentric