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Living Science Materials Center » Precautions and Tips

Precautions and Tips

Precaution and Tips

Following are a list of precautions and tips regarding the handling of specific living science materials:

Safety Handling Techniques for Live Animals

  • Considering reptiles and amphibians MAY carry salmonella, do not carry the animal(s) in your clothing or place around your neck 
  • Anyone who wishes to touch the animal(s) must wash their hands with soap and warm water before and after contact or at least use hand sanitizer
  • To avoid the animal(s) being frightened, which will more than likely cause an incident, only take the animal(s) out of cage in a calm setting (no screaming, tapping on cages, or allow everyone to pet it at the same time)
  • Handle the animal(s) with care, do not make sudden-jerking motions.
  • Ensure animal’s body is fully supported when handling

Safety handling techniques for each animal are listed on ordering form.  This document must be reviewed prior to handling animal.

Animal Bites

Considering that small animals occasionally bite when handled, those produced in the Living Science Materials Center are rabies free. However, possibility of infection and/or allergic reaction should always be considered if someone is bitten. If a bite occurs, the following steps should be taken:
  • Contact the School Nurse.
  • Wash bite with soap and water.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment .
  • See that the victim gets a tetanus shot. (Optional)
  • Bring the animal, in a cage, to the Living Science Center marked with district name, school name, teacher name, name of person bitten, and date of bite.
  • The animal will be observed by the Living Science Center for a period of ten days. The status of the animal will be reported to the teacher at the end of the ten-day period.

Safety in Handling Bacteria

Despite every precaution, supposedly pure cultures of bacteria can become contaminated. The chances that a contaminate is pathogenic cannot be ruled out. In order to protect yourself and the students, follow the procedures listed below when working with bacteria in the classroom.
  • Techniques to be used by students during laboratory periods should be demonstrated by the teacher before going into the laboratory. It should be repeatedly stressed that cultures are completely safe if, and only if, they are handled as if they are pathogenic.
  • Autoclave all cultures before disposing of bacteria by heating at 15 lbs. pressure for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.
  • The importance of stressing that safety is assured as long as proper techniques are employed cannot be overemphasized. As the public generally believes that all bacteria are pathogenic, a parent is understandably distressed to learn his child is working with bacteria unless reassured of safety.

Tips on Protozoan Cultures

  • In general, do not place protozoans in refrigerators or in a location of excess heat or sunshine. Normal room temperatures should be satisfactory. Open all culture jars on arrival and aerate with a clean pipette. Cover loosely with top. Check light colored animals (amoeba) against dark field background, others against white field background.
  • Clean cloudy cultures for clear inspection as follows: Using a dissecting microscope, check to see that the majority of animals have settled to the bottom. Pour off top half of water and replace with fresh water. Permit animals to settle again and repeat until clean. Distilled, rain, or spring water may be used.
  • Do not use tap water. The chlorine content will kill the cultures.

Care of Mealworms

Mealworms may be cultured in an open jar, dish pan or other deep container. Cornmeal or bran can be used as the medium, with slices of raw potato or apple for moisture. Wadded up or shredded newspaper may be placed in the container for the worms to crawl on.

Handling Petri Dishes

Prepared petri dishes must be refrigerated to prevent contamination until time for use. Contaminated dishes must be bagged in grocery size paper or plastic bags when being returned to the Living Science Center for disposal. Only these smaller size bags will fit in the autoclave. Oversized bags or loose contaminated dishes will not be picked up by ESC-20 van drivers.

Use of Rooting Hormone

  • There should be as little time as possible between making cuttings, treating with rooting hormone and planting.
  • Cuttings should be moistened and the excess moisture shaken off before treating with the rooting hormone.
  • Dip basal ends of cuttings into rooting hormone.
  • Shake off excess hormone by tapping cuttings.
  • Plant treated cuttings in soil or perlite, being careful not to rub off rooting hormone.

Tips for Healthy Aquariums

  • Overfeeding, overcrowding, and incorrect water temperature contribute to fish death rate by causing disease and shock. An aquarium heater is recommended. Temperature should remain close to 78 degrees for most fish. Goldfish do not require a heater, except in severely cold weather. See LMP-207.
  • Algae eaters will starve to death if added to an aquarium too soon. Wait until the aquarium has been established several weeks before adding the algae eater.
  • The following guidelines will help maintain a healthy aquarium.

Maximum Recommended Fish per Tank

Fish Bowl
5-6 medium-size fish (tetras, goldfish and mollies) or 12 small fish (guppies) and 1 algae eater
6 medium-size fish (tetras, goldfish and mollies) or 12 small fish (guppies) and 1 algae eater.
10-15 small and medium fish mixture and 1 algae eater
20-25 small and medium fish mixture and 2 algae eaters



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