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New life for old lab equipment

Wednesday, 12 December 2012 2:00 p.m.

Old lab equipment which has passed its use-by date is getting a new lease of life in Whakatane schools.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has passed on laboratory equipment which has reached the end of its technical life - everything from incubators and sterilisers to test tubes and water baths - to three schools. The equipment still works, but to ensure high quality results from the Regional Council's iANZ-accredited laboratory for chemical and microbiological testing, it needs to be replaced when required.

The equipment is most useful to the schools' biological sciences students as it provides a way of sterilising utensils, preparing biological media, incubating and counting bacterial plates.

Whakatane Intermediate School gained bottles, test tubes and test tube racks for their new science facility. Trident High School gained an incubator, autoclave, water bath, vortex, a colony counter and a fridge freezer for storing biological items for their biology department, and Whakatāne High School's biology and marine studies departments gained a water bath, oven, incubator, glass steriliser, bottles and burettes and even a still.

Whakatane High School's Science Department technician Bronwyn Beukes said although the school was well resourced, the additional equipment would allow the Science Team to extend students' skills and experience further. 

"The water bath will be used in chemistry and biology assessments. As many experiments require tests to be done at various temperatures, the water bath is the most controlled way to keep a constant temperature," she said.

"The oven will be used in senior class chemistry for higher temperature incubation, the incubator will be useful for our micro-organism growth, and for using another temperature setting. The still will be used in our Marine Studies department. We find that the tanks quickly increase their salinity, and have to add distilled water to keep the saline concentration within a specific range."

The glass steriliser would allow the school to keep on top of cleaning a large amount of glassware and more effectively than in a dishwasher, she said.

Regional Council Operations, Monitoring and Regulation Committee Chairman Malcolm Whitaker said the Council had investigated re-selling the equipment, which was based in the eastern Bay of Plenty, but there was no resale market for it. Rather than just throwing it away, local schools were asked to express an interest in using it in the classroom.

"It would be wasteful to scrap it, and we have gathered quite a bit of equipment in storage over the past five years. It's great to be able to give it a second life elsewhere," he said.


Please click on the image below to download a high resolution version (2MB, jpg)

Lab equipment donation ebop 2012 lowres

Caption: (from left) Whakatane High School Science Technician Bronwyn Beukes, Year 10 students Isaac Wohlers and Liam Griffiths and Regional Council lab technician Annette Munday unpacking the equipment.

Lab equipment donation ebop 2012 lowres