Controls for equipment cannot require twisting or the application of a force greater than 5 lbf; this means that sink faucets used by disabled students should have wrist blade handles (only one sink within a lab/classroom needs to be made accessible), controls for fume hoods should not be the standard cross-shaped handles and should be within the horizontal and vertical reach of a student in a wheelchair.
AGE-SPECIFIC PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
ELEMENTARY STUDENTS (K-5)
At the elementary level, science is often taught in the standard grade level classroom by the classroom teacher. To adequately address the many aspects of an elementary science program, sufficient space, appropriate casework and sinks should be provided. One successful classroom design at a science magnet school in St. Louis is L-shaped with the small leg of the L being trapezoidal in shape (the trapezoidal shape allows the teacher to observe the rest of the classroom when in the alcove and to observe students in the alcove when in the main classroom space). This alcove has a counter with base and wall cabinets for the storage of science-related materials and equipment around the perimeter and a counter with a sink extending partially across the open end. Science activities requiring counter space and water are carried out in this area. Students should be seated at flat-topped tables or desks, rather than the old standby of sloping desk surfaces with an attached chair. This allows the grouping of tables into the larger flat surfaces that may be required for some science activities and avoids the safety hazard of the attached chairs.
Many elementary schools are opting for a dedicated science classroom in which specialized science teachers teach to all students who rotate into the dedicated space. A dedicated elementary science classroom should be sized for no more than 24 students and should provide a minimum of 40 square feet per student (960 square feet for 24 students). Flexibility is essential. All fixed casework and sinks should be at the perimeter. Tables and demonstration surfaces should be movable and chairs should be stackable. Ideally, the space should allow all furniture to be moved to the perimeter to permit activities on the floor.
Elementary students range greatly in size, from very small at the kindergarten level to nearly adult size in fifth grade. Counters, tables and sinks should be provided in a range of heights. Markerboards and tackboards should also be mounted at comfortable heights for the students. As there is a significant size difference between most kindergartners and most fifth graders, consider providing two separate elementary science classrooms: one for grades K- 2 and a second for grades 3-5. Even within these separate age groups, different counter heights should be provided with at least one sink at each height.