Availability of laboratory facilities in Chemistry department in schools

Complete Chapter One



Background to the Study
Chemistry is the study that deals with the composition, properties and the use of matter. It probes into the principles governing the changes that matter undergoes: (Advanced Level Chemistry by John Murray). Our world is made up of matter, chemistry is studied to acquire knowledge and learn to observe, record and make intelligent inferences.
Chemistry as a modern science began a few hundred years ago, when Chemists started to relate the observations they made about the substances they were investigating, the theories of the structure of matter. It is studied to acquire knowledge and learn to observe, record and make intelligent inferences. Chemistry is first and foremost an empirical science. It is best practiced and understood according to John Murray in the manner in which it started, at the laboratory bench. Virtually, all our present day chemical knowledge of the properties of elements and compounds and how they react together to form new materials, has been discovered by skilled experimentalists, often with a degree of serendipity.
The American Chemical Society at its centennial celebration in 1976 defined chemistry as “the science and technology of taking things apart and putting things together”. Simple as the above definition is, the society at large has benefited tremendously. Chemistry has the potential to help the nation develop her agriculture, drugs, energy resources, construction materials, soaps and detergents, textiles, foods and beverages, etc.
Chemistry as a science, as stipulated in the National Policy on Education (2004) is to equip students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology. This goal can only become a reality if the theoretical scientific concepts are buttressed with practical or experiment demonstrated through the use of laboratory.
The laboratory has been given a central and distinctive role in chemistry education and chemistry educators have suggested that rich benefits in learning, accrue from using laboratory activities. The success of chemistry education is associated with the use of laboratory facilities.
A chemistry laboratory is a chemical building where one can perform in actual the different reactions that have been learnt in the books or heard in lectures.
Laboratory facilities are needed in all its ramifications for the purpose of achieving specific goals, and aid or facility can be used for instructional process and development. It is therefore imperative for teachers to use instructional aids to make their teaching more interesting, effective to arrest and sustain more attention of the students for effective learning to take place.
The chemistry laboratory is one of the most interesting and rewarding academic experiences one encounters, it is one of those experiences that will enable one to interpret the principles and apply the calculations presented in the textbook and lecture to the collected data in the laboratory. Chemistry has been taught in our schools in the past by the traditional talk-chalk process which confers on the teacher as the “know all machine”.
Recent changes in the various subject matter, availability of instructional facilities and methodology in the teaching of chemistry originated partly from the expanding research work in the universities education centres and professional views.
It is common knowledge that students do better through personal observation of objects or phenomena than reading about them in textbooks. The laboratory practice is one of the best and most important instructional media for effective learning because it makes real what is abstract.
In this wise, students prefer experiments as it enables them to observe, classify and interpret results from concrete data laboratory practice. Practical work is very important in the learning of chemistry. A lot of practical work has been done in laboratories to assure proper understanding of chemistry.
In a chemistry laboratory, the most common and widely used equipment are those made of glass, with glass ware.
Laboratory facilities are classified in chemistry into:
Chemistry laboratory equipment which include; Dry bath, centrifuge, thistle tube, Rectangular water bath, Bunsen burner, Water bath, Digital thermometer, Thermometers, pH meters.
Laboratory consumables – filtering flasks, plastic funnel, distillation apparatus, chromatography apparatus, Petri dish, volumetric flask, boiling flasks.
Laboratory accessories – Tripod stand, stop clock, Test chambers, Laboratory stands, Laboratory clamps, Laboratory stoppers.
Laboratory mixing equipment – Mixers, shakers magnetic stirrers.
Laboratory Liquid Handling Equipment – Burette, laboratory pipette, Diluters, laboratory dispensers, peristaltic pump, syringes.
Laboratory Cooling Equipment – chillers, freezers, laboratory refrigerators etc.
Laboratory Filtration Equipment – laboratory filters, filter paper, filtration pump, extraction thimbles, filtration mesh, Gooch crucible.
Laboratory Safety Equipment – Personal protective equipment, general laboratory safety equipment.
It is therefore necessary to examine the availability and utilization of these facilities in the senior secondary schools.
The assessments is an investigation and verification measure to help in determining the extent to which thee schools possess these facilities and the utilization of these facilities.

Statement of Problem
In many of our secondary schools today, students perceive chemistry subject as a difficult subject because it involves imagination of objects, this was why chemistry teachers have been urged to be more practical in their approach to the teaching of chemistry.
In developing countries like Nigeria, the importance of chemistry can not be over emphasized and its teaching is therefore a sine qua non to scientific and technological advancement.
The practical approach to the teaching of chemistry requires facilities, materials and equipment.
The assessment will attempt to study the availability of these facilities and its utilization.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to identify chemistry laboratory facilities recommended. There have been growing decline in the usage of laboratory facilities due to inadequate laboratory facilities. The purpose of this study is also to assess these facilities in the laboratory for the teaching of chemistry in some selected secondary schools in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State.

Significance of the Study
This research findings and recommendations will assist the authorities that are responsible for providing laboratory facilities for schools available. It will also provide useful information to the government during allocation and distribution of chemistry laboratory facilities to schools.
Finally, the study will provide information as to the required and appropriate materials and equipment for the teaching of chemistry to chemistry teachers.

Research Questions
What percentage of schools has laboratory consumables?
What percentage of schools has chemistry laboratory equipment?
What percentage of schools has laboratory accessories?
What percentage of schools has laboratory mixing equipment?
What percentage of schools has laboratory liquid handling equipment?
What percentage of schools has laboratory cooling equipment?
What percentage of schools has laboratory filtration equipment?
What percentage of schools has laboratory safety equipment?

Scope or Delimitation
This study is an assessment of the availability and actual use of laboratory facilities in some selected senior secondary schools in Egor Local Government Area of Edo-State. The study does not intend to evaluate the effectiveness of the uses in the teaching/learning process.
The performance of the students will not be discussed but the status of the facilities will be investigated.

Definition of Terms
Assessment: In simple term, assessment means examination or testing of laboratory facilities.
Laboratory Facilities: This term means all forms of educational equipment that are used to perform experiments which makes learning more easy or simple.
Laboratory Practice: This involves the manipulation of apparatus in an experimentally determined environment to either find out the true theoretical assumption or to disapprove such assumptions.
Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination: The examination taken at the end of the senior secondary school programme.
Instructional Media: Instructional media is a way or act in which information is being transferred to another through the use of materials or equipment or aids.
Technology: Technology is the application of principles in science to everyday human activities on the science of individual arts.

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