7 Essential Lab Fire Safety Tips

Labs are hubs for student learning, experimentation and problem-solving! However, without the proper training and knowledge of lab safety, they can quickly turn into a fire hazard. In fact, fires are one of the most common accidents that occur in these environments.

To decrease the risk of fire in your lab, it’s important to prioritize lab safety!

Take a look at these helpful tips that will help equip you and your students with the knowledge and practices needed to maintain a safe lab setting:

1. Know the emergency procedures

Before even stepping into the lab, familiarize students with the lab’s fire emergency procedures, including evacuation routes, assembly points and alarm systems. A good way to know if your students understand the emergency procedures is to quiz them!

2. Understand lab layout and equipment

Have a clear understanding of the layout of the lab, locations of fire extinguishers, fire blankets, emergency showers and eyewash stations. Make sure students know how to operate all safety equipment, including the different types of fire extinguishers and how to use them properly.

3. Handle chemicals and flammables safely

Follow proper protocols for handling, storing and disposing of chemicals. Use fume hoods like our Protocol Fume Hood for volatile or hazardous substances.

Store flammable liquids, gases and materials in approved containers and cabinets, following the correct guidelines for storage. Our Protocol Wood or Steel Flammables Cabinets are a great solution for storing flammable, hazardous materials and liquids.

We also offer our Protocol Steel Oily Waste Can, which is ideal for properly discarding materials soaked with solvents and other flammable liquids.

4. Be mindful of heat sources

Keep heat sources such as soldering irons, ovens and hot plates away from flammable materials and ensure proper ventilation in the area.

Do not leave Bunsen burners, hot plates or any open flames unattended. Turn off heating equipment and extinguish flames when not in use.

5. Wear the proper safety gear

Set students up with fire-resistant lab coats, gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from potential burns and injuries.

6. Keep the space clean and organized

While experiments can be fun, they can also get messy fast! That’s why it’s important to teach students how to keep a clean and organized workspace to reduce the risk of fires. Quickly clean up spills, dispose of waste properly and store materials neatly. Also ensure that aisles, exits and pathways are clear of clutter and obstructions at all times to make evacuation easier.

7. Report and address hazards

Encourage students to report potential fire hazards or safety concerns in a timely manner. Address reported issues to mitigate risks and maintain a safe lab environment.

Contact us today to discover how we can help provide lab safety equipment to help maintain a safe laboratory environment for everyone.

Fueling Career and Technical Education with ESSER Funds

Looking to upgrade your school’s career and technical education program but not sure where to get the funds? Well, we have some great news! Schools can use their ESSER III funds for career and technical education. If you haven’t taken advantage of this funding yet, the clock is ticking! ESSER III funds are set to expire in September 2024.

What are ESSER III funds?

ESSER III funds are federal funds allocated to K-12 schools to help them respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and are intended to address the impact of the pandemic on students and schools. ESSER III funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including investing in better ventilation systems, hiring additional staff and improving programs like career and technical education. Here are some more specific ways schools can use their ESSER III funds to improve their career and technical education programs:

1. Upgrade facilities

Invest in modernizing and upgrading CTE facilities, including specialized labs, workshops, furniture and equipment, to ensure students have access to state-of-the-art learning environments. At Diversified Spaces, we have a variety of CTE-focused furniture solutions like our Apprentice and Forum collections.

2. Technology integration

Purchase advanced technology and equipment relevant to specific industries, enabling students to gain hands-on experience with tools they'll encounter in their future careers.

3. Teacher professional development

Provide training opportunities for CTE educators to stay updated on the latest industry trends and teaching practices, ensuring they can deliver high-quality instruction.

4. Industry partnerships

Collaborate with local businesses and industries to establish partnerships that offer internships, apprenticeships and mentorship opportunities for students, bridging the gap between classroom learning and the workplace.

5. Credential attainment

Use funds to support students in earning industry-recognized certifications and credentials, increasing their employability and competitiveness in the job market.

6. Career exploration

Organize career fairs, workshops, and guest speaker sessions that expose students to various career paths within the CTE field, helping them make informed decisions about their future.

More CTE funding

Don’t fret! When ESSER III funds expire in September 2024, schools still have an opportunity to take advantage of Perkins funding to use towards their CTE programs.

What is Perkins funding?

Perkins funding, officially known as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, is a federal program in the United States that provides financial support to schools and educational institutions for the enhancement and expansion of CTE programs. The grants aim to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed for various careers and industries, ensuring they are well-prepared for the workforce or further education. One way schools can use this funding is to purchase specialized furniture for their CTE programs. For example, schools with culinary arts programs may use Perkins grant funding to purchase industrial-grade kitchen equipment, such as stainless steel work tables, commercial-grade mixers, and high-capacity refrigerators. Similarly, schools with construction programs can use the funding to purchase table saws, power tools and workbenches like our Apprentice Glue and Stain Bench or our Apprentice Side Clamp Bench.

Start using your funds now!

By utilizing ESSER and Perkins funds effectively, schools can transform their career and technical education programs into dynamic and responsive pathways that prepare students for success in their chosen careers. Reach out today to learn more about these two funding programs and to let us help furnish your CTE classrooms.

Interdisciplinary Learning in Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Gone are the days when students could specialize in one area and expect to be successful in their careers. Today's job market now requires a diverse set of skills and knowledge. Unfortunately, many students aren't receiving the education needed to fill the ever-widening skills gap. In fact, 46% of learning and development leaders say the skills gap is widening at their organizations this year – up four points from 2021 data.

So, how can we move toward filling the workforce skills gap?

One solution is incorporating career and technical education (CTE) programs with an interdisciplinary learning approach.

What Is Interdisciplinary Learning?

Interdisciplinary learning is an approach that combines two or more academic disciplines or fields of study to provide a comprehensive understanding of a complex topic. It encourages students to think critically and creatively by drawing on different perspectives, skills, and knowledge from multiple disciplines. By integrating diverse ideas and approaches, interdisciplinary learning can help students develop a more holistic understanding of the world and better prepare them for solving complex real-world problems.

Interdisciplinary Learning in CTE

Interdisciplinary learning can be a valuable tool for students pursuing CTE paths. By combining multiple subjects, students can:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of their chosen field and develop a wider range of skills.

For example, students studying automotive technology might also take a course in physics to better understand the principles behind the vehicles they work on. Or, a culinary arts student could benefit from learning about business and marketing to better understand how to run a successful restaurant.

  • Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

These skills are valuable in any career! By approaching problems from multiple angles and utilizing knowledge from different areas, students can find innovative solutions to complex issues.

Interdisciplinary learning in CTE can also help address the skills gap in the workforce. As technology continues to advance, there is a growing demand for workers who possess both technical skills and a solid understanding of other areas such as business, marketing, and communication. By integrating this type of learning into CTE programs, students are better equipped to meet the demands of the modern workforce and employers are more likely to find qualified candidates.

Furniture To Support Interdisciplinary Learning

Furniture can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of interdisciplinary learning. When selecting furniture, consider these factors:

  • Practicality: Furniture should be easy to move and store, as cumbersome pieces can hinder the learning process and limit classroom activity possibilities. At Diversified Spaces, we offer a range of mobile furniture options to help support this learning approach.
  • Flexible options: Each student also has their own unique learning style, and furniture can be used to accommodate these preferences. Some students prefer independent work, while others thrive in group settings. Flexible furniture options can help create a space that caters to all student needs. For example, our Hi-Low Electric Table and Hi-Low Hand Crank Table provide students with the option to sit or stand while they learn.
  • Storage: Interdisciplinary learning environments sometimes need storage options to help students and faculty organize and access materials across different fields or disciplines. Our Forum 48" Tool Cabinet is a great option for this – store tools, supplies, spare parts and more! If this option doesn't work for you, don't worry! We have so many storage options to meet your needs.
  • Technology: Incorporating technology-friendly furniture, like desks with built-in outlets or charging ports, allows educators to seamlessly integrate technology into the learning experience. This fosters a more efficient and effective learning environment.

Ready To Create an Interdisciplinary Learning Environment?

Interdisciplinary learning in CTE is a valuable approach that prepares students for success in today's diverse and complex world. By integrating multiple disciplines, students can develop a range of skills and knowledge that are essential for their future careers. If you're ready to create an interdisciplinary learning environment for your CTE program, reach out today to get started.

AutoCAD, Revit and CET Files: What’s the Difference?

AutoCAD, Revit and CET files are essential in architecture, design, engineering, and construction to create detailed 3D models of buildings, furniture, and other architectural elements. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced professional, understanding how these files work can be a valuable asset in your field. Let's take a deep dive into these file types and explore the best uses for them.

How Each File Type Is Used

  • AutoCAD is the universal drawing format that can be imported into almost all platforms similar to Revit and CET.
  • CET is used for design, visuals, product listings and pricing. This is typically used for one room or two, rather than an entire building.
  • Revit is used in architectural and design industries to specify products in an entire building.

More on AutoCAD Files

AutoCAD lets designers create and edit designs in both 2D and 3D. Just think of AutoCAD as the universal platform! You can use AutoCAD files in various software, including Revit, CET and more.

How to access our AutoCAD files

We have AutoCad files for those on platforms that don't have supporting smart models or Building Information Modeling (BIM) models. Contact us and we can send the files you need!

More on Revit Files

  • As mentioned earlier, Revit is used by architectural and design industries to specify products in an entire building using Building Information Modeling (BIM). These drawings usually include information on electrical, plumbing, mechanical, flooring, furniture and much more! Because of the many different factors, Revit can be more complex than other software.

How to access our Revit files

You can access our Revit files through the Resources tab in the navigation bar on our website.

screenshot that shows the Revit Library tab under resources

More on CET Files

CET files are used by the software CET Designer to create 2D and 3D designs for interior spaces. Like Revit, much of the detail work is specified in CET, but CET also includes pricing. As you select options within the platform, it automatically generates quotes.

In some instances, designers incorporate products from multiple manufacturers into a single room to compare prices and options. While training is still needed, CET is a more user-friendly software to use than others.

How to access our CET files

You can request access to our free extension through your Configura subscription under Diversified Woodcrafts.

While AutoCAD, Revit and CET are powerful tools in the educational industry, they have distinct differences that make them better suited for different projects. Choosing between the three will ultimately depend on your project's specific needs and preferences.

Need help accessing files? Reach out to us today.

4 Ways To Improve Sustainability in the Classroom

Each year, schools and universities generate about 562,442 tons of waste just in California. Can you imagine how much waste is produced in schools and universities across the United States?

Fortunately, many schools are already reducing their environmental impact. And your school can too! There are many ways to promote sustainability and teach kids about taking care of our environment. Check out our favorite ways to improve sustainability in the classroom: 

1. Choose the right furniture.

One of the best ways to improve sustainability in the classroom is by choosing the right furniture. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of classroom furniture that isn’t manufactured with the environment in mind. 

But the good news? There are companies out there that do make environmentally friendly classroom furniture! At Diversified Spaces, the wood we use to build our furniture is sourced from sustainably managed forests.

What’s sustainable forestry?

Sustainable forestry is the practice of regulating forest resources to meet the needs of society and industry while preserving the forest’s health. We ensure the wood we use comes from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and/or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Find out more about the forests we source our wood from! 

You’ll also want to make sure the furniture you choose complies with MAS Certified Green®. The Materials Analytical Services, LLC (MAS) Certified Green® is an emissions testing laboratory specializing in helping companies enter the green market with low VOC emitting products.  

 The program also helps consumers (like you) easily identify interior construction products, furniture, and furnishings designed and manufactured to reduce chemical VOC emissions.  

At Diversified Spaces, we’re proud to be MAS Certified Green® compliant. View our certificate and learn more about the program.  

Sprout Hydroponic Growing Center

2. Plant a garden. 

Want to get your students involved? Plant a class garden. Growing a garden provides a wonderful hands-on learning experience and can also help students feel more connected to the environment.  

Our Sprout Plant Growing Stand is the perfect way to start a class garden! This unit features 20 plastic trays (4 per shelf) that provide the perfect space to start seedlings indoors and watch them grow.  

If you want to take it up a notch, consider teaching them about hydroponics. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.  

Hydroponics is also very sustainable! In fact, hydroponic systems use less water – as much as 10 times less water – than traditional field cropping water methods because the water in a hydroponic system is captured and reused. 

Not sure how to get started? Our Sprout Hydroponic Growing Center makes it easy to start teaching students about hydroponics! This unit features a self-contained ebb and flow hydroponics growing system that’s perfect to show students how plants can grow without soil. Learn more about our Sprout Hydroponics Growing Center.

3. Get creative with trash.

Broken pencils, plastic bottle caps, wrappers, you name it! Trash is all around us. But instead of throwing the rubbish out, let your students get creative with it! You can do a quick Google or Pinterest search to find fun ways to repurpose them. It’s better to give the trash a second life rather than go to a landfill.

4. Educate through STEM activities. 

Students are the future – that’s why it’s important to teach them about sustainability at an early age. What we teach them about sustainability now will affect their lifestyle choices in the coming years. It will allow them to take responsibility for their actions, plan for the future and maintain a healthier planet for generations to come. Here are some great STEM activities you can implement in your lesson plans to give students a chance to learn more about environmental science and sustainability.  

While incorporating sustainability into schools and classrooms may not be the easiest initiative, it is certainly achievable. Implementing the sustainable practices mentioned above will not only teach students to take care of our planet but turn them into environmentally responsible citizens.  

5 Art Classroom Design Tips To Boost Creativity 

Art is one of the most important subjects in K-12 schools. It’s more than learning how to draw a tree or creating a ceramic mug. Art class allows students to develop life skills that will help them in their future endeavors. They learn how practice makes perfect and how small differences can have a large impact. But, one of the most important skills they'll learn is creativity. 

Creativity is the most sought-after skill in today’s workforce. According to an Adobe study, 85% of college-educated professionals say creative thinking is critical to problem-solving in their careers. Additionally, a World Economic Forum report stated that creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need … and it already has!  

Research has also shown that students who participate in art education are:  

  • 5 times less likely to drop out of school 
  • 5 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement  
  • And 30% more likely to pursue a professional career 

With this in mind, it’s no doubt that investing in K-12 art programs is also making an investment in students’ futures.  

If your art program is due for an overhaul, make sure you follow these art classroom design tips below to ensure you’re setting students up for success.  

1. Choose an appropriate work surface.

One of the biggest art classroom design tips is to find a durable, large work surface that has plenty of room to complete projects and can withstand the demands of an art classroom. Available in various sizes, our Perspective Tables are the perfect solution! Constructed of solid maple with two tapered pedestal-style pane legs and two maple truss bars, these tables are built to last. Plus, you can choose from three top options to fit your needs: maple butcher block, natural maple high-pressure laminate (HPL) or almond HPL.  

Perspective Table

2. Make ample room for storage.

Canvas, paint, pencils, colored paper, charcoal … you name it! Whether it’s a ceramics studio or a drawing class, there will always be an abundance of supplies in an art classroom. That’s why it’s essential to have a variety of storage throughout the space. Some options to choose from include our Drawing Supply Cabinet, Paper Storage Cabinet, Hanging Wall Storage Cabinet and more. Browse through our Perspective Art Storage collection now.  

Accessibility to supplies is also something to keep in mind! If there are supplies that students use on a regular basis, store those supplies in areas where all students can access them at any time.  

art storage options

3. Use color to improve creativity. 

Art class is all about letting a student’s creativity shine! To improve creativity, your art classroom design should incorporate color that is known to boost it. These colors include:  

  • Orange. Add a splash of creativity to the art room with orange. Incorporate orange accent furniture or decor to improve creativity, inspiration and overall mood.  
  • Yellow. Yellow represents creativity, friendliness, optimism and confidence! Creating an art classroom design with yellow accents will stimulate positivity, creativity and happiness.  
  • Red. If students need some imagination and inspiration, add red accents throughout your art classroom. Because red is also a warm color like orange, it will help boost creativity, alertness and excitement!  

Curious about adding other colors? Take a look at how you can use colors to create a positive experience in the classroom.  

4. Showcase student artwork.

Displaying student artwork throughout the art classroom helps students feel proud and confident about their work and gives other students inspiration for their own artwork. The display of artwork also promotes artistic discussions between students and teachers.

Opting for a display solution like our Perspective Canvas Door Display Cabinet will help you maximize storage while simultaneously creating space to display artwork. This unit features a fixed bottom and middle shelf with four adjustable shelves for storage. Plus, the doors feature a black canvas mesh and can be used to hang artwork.  

Perspective Canvas Door Display Cabinet

5. Don’t forget the sinks!  

If you’ve ever taken an art class or taught an art class, chances are you’ve seen how easy it is for the space to become a mess! That’s why an art classroom design should incorporate features that make the cleanup process easy, including sinks. Whether it’s paint-filled brushes or hands full of clay dust, our Perspective Art Clean Up Sink is the perfect cleanup solution for any art classroom mess.  

Perspective Art Clean Up Sink

Let’s Get Creative with Your Art Classroom Design

Are you ready to create an art classroom that will boost student creativity? Let our team of experts help you make your vision a reality. Reach out today!  

What Is Career and Technical Education (CTE)?

“Our world has changed. In today’s highly-technical knowledge-based economy, having hands-on skills and perfecting what one is good at can be more valuable than getting a degree in ‘something’ simply to get one.” – South Central Service Cooperative 

Take a moment to think back to your high school years. Do you feel like your classes prepared you for the real world? 

If you answered “no”, you’re not alone. The Association of American Colleges and Universities conducted a survey that found that only 55% of students attending high school feel prepared to enter the workforce.

Another study by the Kauffman Foundation found a disconnect between high school and the real world. Survey participants – including parents and employers – indicated that students are graduating high school college-ready, but not career-ready. Survey answers also agreed that “life skills” are the most important when preparing students for success in the workforce. 

Because of this, more schools are incorporating career and technical education (CTE) programs into their curriculum. In 2020-2021, there were over 12.3 million students enrolled in CTE programs across the country. 

Defining Career and Technical Education (CTE)

What is career and technical education

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce by providing technical, academic and employability skills. These programs provide students with a variety of career exploration opportunities, allowing students to fully understand their career interests and aptitudes. 

CTE programs focus on a set of career clusters, each representing a broad sector of the job market.  Common clusters include:

Career and Technical Education Career Clusters

  1. Business, Marketing and Management
  2. Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
  3. Communication and Information Systems
  4. Skilled and Technical Sciences
  5. Health Sciences
  6. Human Sciences and Education 

And while specific career and technical education programs may differ from school to school, the goals of these programs remain the same: 

  1. Provide opportunities for career exploration within targeted career clusters to help students find their purpose and passion. 
  2. Provide real-life experience for students prior to high school graduation through apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing and more. 
  3. Provide each student with the academic and technical skills needed to pursue additional education (technical school, community college, college or university) or transition into the workforce. 

How CTE Supports Students with Learning Disabilities 

Though CTE courses benefit everyone, CTE especially helps students with learning disabilities. 

Throughout the United States, students with disabilities are less likely to graduate on time, attend college or be employed compared to those without a disability. But, studies have shown that students with disabilities who participate in CTE programs have far better outcomes including: 

  • 3% fewer unexcused absences
  • 5% more likely to graduate high school on time
  • 20% more likely to be employed after graduation 

Incorporating a CTE program that supports inclusiveness will help students with disabilities be successful later on in life and in future careers. 

CTE in Early Childhood Education

While most career and technical education programs are established in high schools, many professionals believe that even younger students could benefit from career exploration and the introduction of CTE within their curriculum. In fact, research shows that students as young as fifth grade (10 years old) have already started narrowing down career options and identifying early career aspirations. 

So, how can school districts incorporate CTE in early childhood education? 

Today's children will pursue several careers throughout their lives, as opposed to the one or two careers of previous generations. It’s astounding to think that today’s elementary students will not start their careers until sometime around 2040! (Can you imagine all the new and exciting career pathways that will be available 20 years from now?) Given this, CTE in early childhood education should focus on teaching students the skills that they will need to succeed in any career. These skills include: 

  • Communicating well with others
  • Being kind to others
  • Being a good problem solve
  • Being able to adapt

With an early introduction to valuable work skills, students will be well-positioned for any career path. 

Spaces That Support CTE

Gone are the days of the “one-size-fits-all” classroom! Flexibility and adaptability are key for any successful CTE learning space to support the needs of each learner and their individual goals. 

These spaces should also allow for easy technology integration, as it helps students remain engaged and provide a more immersive experience. Learn more about designing modern CTE classrooms

At Diversified Spaces, we offer hands-on furniture solutions that support CTE education, including health sciences, manufacturing and construction, and robotics. Reach out to one of our experts today to find out more. 


It’s no doubt that career and technical education is an important part of a student’s success. CTE is an invaluable tool for preparing today’s students to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce.