The 21st century chemistry classroom provides a learning environment that is student-centered and curriculum-driven. The floor plan should be designed for conversation, collaboration, and discovery.

The classroom should contain enough space and storage to permit long-term multidisciplinary projects, individual and small-group learning, inquiry lessons, project-based learning, and problem solving. Flexibility in the arrangement of space is recommended.

Universal design allows students with disabilities to participate and have access to all necessary facilities and equipment.

Teacher Accommodations in the Classroom

Teacher accommodations in the classroom should include a desk, chair, computer, and a demonstration table that includes a sink, natural gas connection, and a safety shield. Near the demonstration area should be the following safety equipment: a hands-free, plumbed-in eyewash station; a fire extinguisher; a first-aid kit; and a goggle UV-sanitizer with a class set of goggles1. A system of secure communications with school administration and emergency response personnel is critical. A wireless network allows computers, printers, electronic display boards, and video projection systems to be connected. The aforementioned equipment—especially safety equipment—should also be present in laboratory spaces that are separate from the classroom.

A portable cart with a class set of tablets or computers (one or two students per device) should be available, but they can be shared with other classrooms. This technology will connect students with each other, classrooms around the world, reference materials, and data collection systems. Computers also allow for enhanced access for students with disabilities.

A lockable file cabinet should be available for teacher use. Bookcases, storage cabinets that are master-keyed, and shelves are needed for classroom supplies. Wall space should be provided for tables, electronic communications boards, and displays.

The Middle School Classroom Setting

Middle school classrooms may double as laboratory space and should also include access to the accommodations and essential safety equipment referenced above. Gas connections and safety shields may not be necessary at the middle school level.


  1. Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations.

ACS Guidelines and Recommendations
for Teaching Middle and High School Chemistry

An essential resource for middle and high school physical science and chemistry teachers, curriculum developers, principals, and other school administrators who support teachers in those roles.

Learn about the nature of instruction, the core ideas to teach, the physical instructional environment, safety, sustainability, and the professional responsibilities of teachers.