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Many items listed in this resource can be used in more than one curriculum area. It is important to have a central storage area (a clean, dry, cool place) so that equipment can be easily found and replaced.


Each school needs to decide how to store science equipment and materials. Some schools:

  • organise material alphabetically
  • use a thematic approach
  • use the contextual strands of Science in the New Zealand Curriculum
  • use a combination of these.

Consider the following points when organising storage for your school.

1. Plastic tote trays, storage cubes, or large cardboard boxes are useful containers for sets of equipment for topics such as electricity or weather. Accompany each of these with a subject-based colour-coded card. This could include a list of contents, a list of required items that are not stored in the resource room, and a list of extra items that might be required and their location. It is easier to check the contents of such containers if they do not have lids.

2. Tote trolleys make it easier to store tote trays, and to transport equipment and materials.

3. It is useful to have small boxes, such as ice cream containers, that contain only a set quantity of equipment and that are labelled with the number (for example, “10 scissors, 10 thermometers”) because it is immediately obvious when equipment is missing.

4. Arranging items alphabetically in the central storage area makes them easier to locate.

5. Labelling shelves and boxes is essential. Use removable labels on trays.

6. Keep tools in a separate, labelled toolbox. See the 'Suggested tools' page for a list of useful tools.

7. Keep heavy items on low shelves.

8. When selecting containers, consider who will need to carry the equipment.

9. Always clean and dry equipment before storing it. Wash glassware in soapy water and leave it to drip dry. A bucket of warm water can be used as a portable sink.

Storage of special materials

10. Store magnets with ‘keepers’ on to protect the magnetism.

11. Wrap and store lenses and magnifying glasses in covered containers (to protect them from dust and scotches).

12. Store chemicals in clearly labelled jars or bottles on a shelf with a retaining rail and in a cool place that is not easily accessible to students. Store hydrochloric acid and other corrosive chemicals separately from any metals, tools, instruments, or electrical equipment. Poisons must be stored in a locked cupboard. Do not use food or drink containers for storing chemicals. For more information, see Safety and Science: A Guidance Manual for New Zealand Schools, specifically the ‘Storage’ section on pages 16–17 and ‘Chemicals’ section on pages 61–63.