Stored chemicals and other interactive materials should be carefully segregated by type and stored in or on appropriate materials and well labeled. Flammable storage cabinets should not be vented (NFPA 30 4.3.4). Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) should be located in notebooks both in the chemical storage room and in a separate notebook outside the chemical storage room, on or immediately adjacent to the door.
The “front” of the lab/classroom is often neglected as an opportunity for storage as it is usually covered with markerboards and tackboards and separated from the rest of the room by a large, fixed demonstration table. However, a number of schools have utilized sliding panel markerboards and installed bookshelves behind them and cabinets or drawers beneath to create additional storage in the lab/classroom; one school in Clark County, NV, installed floor-to-ceiling sliding panels covered with markerboard material across the “front” of the room and created a large closet space behind. Bear in mind that the storage space created by these innovations is not “free” space; it takes up floor area and has a cost, but it does utilize a wall of the room that would normally be opaque for storage opportunities.
A variety of specialized casework is available to improve the organization of storage facilities. Tall “compartmental storage” cabinets have two vertical panels and nine adjustable shelves that can be rearranged so as to provide sections for tall items and for small items within the same cabinet. As mentioned elsewhere, deeper, flat drawer map storage cabinets are useful for USGS topographical maps and other poster-sized graphics, tote-tray cabinets, designed to hold a variety of plastic trays can be extremely helpful in organizing equipment and materials and come in tall and under-counter formats. Racks with open plastic bins that can easily be viewed from the front are being used for the storage of a variety of smaller items.
If a particular need is not represented by a casework manufacturer’s catalog, consider having it designed and manufactured as a “special.” In actuality, most of the casework needed for a new or renovated school science facility will be manufactured specifically for that project, so the additional cost of modifying an existing design or constructing a totally new design is relatively low. One school in the San Diego, CA area designed some base cabinets to open into each other lengthwise, then added a door at the side of the end cabinet so that they could easily store 2 meter long air tracks. A Wilmington, DE school had the bottom of a standard torso cabinet removed so that it could sit on top of a counter.
Faculty offices can be grouped in such a way as to increase collegiality among members of the science department and also to increase the “serendipitous exchanges” between faculty and students. Centralizing faculty offices offers many chances for science faculty to meet informally, exchange ideas, etc. not normally available when the teacher’s office is within the lab/classroom.