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Everything I ever learned about this job, I learned from a more experienced Labbie.
4 years of chemistry at Uni meant I could set up a distillation apparatus with my eyes closed and perform multiple titrations in the blink of an eye, but it didn’t teach me to leap tall piles of washing up in a single bound or remember to check if the copper sulphate I’d grabbed off the shelf was anhydrous or not. I’d always had a labbie nearby to do that for me. Not that I’d ever really noticed.
When I started my first school job I had Andy to look after me, then there was Julie at the next one, followed by Jill at the next. If I ever needed them, and I frequently did, there was also an army of experienced people available via the LABBIES discussion list, or the LabLINK newsletter or the QEST committee. That’s how I know how to get a piece of tube through a rubber stopper without jamming it into my hand, how to nurse a microscope through to the next service and how to store eyeballs in the freezer for the next time I need them.
So, when I had a call from a Labbie new to the job recently I was happy to be able to pass on some of the tricks of the trade. She started the conversation with,
“I’m not sure if you’re going to want to tell me or not, but I’m going to have a few eyeballs left over after the prac and I want to know if I can freeze them for next time.”
I will always be happy to help you get more bang for your buck out of our specimens. It’s my experience that education in Queensland is under valued and horribly under-funded, and that is probably the case in most states of Australia.
So, don’t be shy. Get in touch and ask away. And if you have a tip to share then let your colleagues in on the secret. You just never know when you might need one of them to return the favour.
By the way, place your eyeballs lens down in a container or petri dish and cover them with 0.9% saline then store in the freezer until you need them. A quick soak in saline will also plump up any specimens that have dried out a bit in the freezer and get them looking better before you put them into the classroom.