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Back to School: Celebrating and Showcasing Your SmartLab

Written by Haley Ruman

For many schools, the SmartLab is a hub of excitement! The endless possibilities and unique approach to learning draws students of all backgrounds and interests. As the school year begins, you may be wondering how you can leverage that excitement and spread the word to more of your community. 

Showcase the opportunities in your SmartLab HQ with: 

  • a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony (New SmartLabs) 
  • a SmartLab Open House 
  • Year-Long Communication 

Read on to explore each of these opportunities and consider what could work best for you and your school to engage student families and your community.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

(New SmartLabs) 

If your SmartLab is brand new, a ribbon-cutting ceremony is the perfect event to officially open the SmartLab to students and your community. A ribbon-cutting ceremony typically includes: 

  • An introduction or speech from school administration to share the benefits of the SmartLab, communicate hopes and goals, and thank donors 
  • Ribbon-cutting in front of the SmartLab space 
  • Exploration of SmartLab space, technology, and curriculum with open-ended activities 

If the school year has already begun, consider how you can incorporate the voices of students, parents, and other stakeholders who have seen the initial impact of SmartLab. 

To access resources and learn more about how Creative Learning Systems supports schools with ribbon-cutting ceremonies and media promotions, visit the New SmartLab PR Page.  

Above: Baker Elementary (San Diego, CA) Ribbon Cutting from 2021 (may take time to load)

SmartLab Open House

Host an open house for parents and community members to explore the possibilities of SmartLab! The beauty of a SmartLab Open House is that you can host it at any time in the first quarter or trimester. This delayed timing allows you to launch the SmartLab program and gather exemplar student projects to feature. As you plan your SmartLab Open House, consider these ideas: 

  • Set up stations for each Area of Exploration and allow families and community members to explore the technology and project starters available to students. Provide prompts for exploration at each station: What could you create with this tool? How could you use this tool to solve a real-world problem? How does this tool connect to different careers? 
  • Gather student volunteers to run stations for parents. Position students as facilitators, prompting parents to explore new technology and discover the possibilities. Help students generate questions to ask parents as they explore: Have you used something like this before? What do you already know about…? What do you notice? What questions do you have about this tool? How do you think you could figure out…? What do you think might happen if you…? 
  • Use the SmartLab Open House to share student projects. Gather student volunteers to demonstrate and share their learning. Encourage parents and community members to ask students: What was your goal for your project and how did you work towards it? What did you learn? What did you learn about yourself? How has your thinking changed? What challenges did you encounter and how did you handle them? What would you do differently next time? 

To access resources for planning your event as well as open house posters, email templates, and social media posts, visit the New SmartLab PR Page

Students at Lincoln Elementary School in Calumet City, Illinois, take their families through an open house.
Students at Lincoln Elementary School in Calumet City, Illinois, take their families through an open house.

Year-Long Communication 

Hosting an in-person event isn’t always feasible for schools or accessible to all families and stakeholders. There are so many other ways to share what’s happening in your SmartLab with your community. 

  • Distribute a monthly newsletter highlighting exciting discoveries and student creations. 
  • Facilitate student groups in using a Padcaster, iPad, or GoPro each project cycle to interview classmates and record their learning process and projects. 
  • Align the Share step in the SmartLab Learning Process with a method that can be shared with families. Have learners post their final project artifacts and reflections to their LearningHub Portfolio to then be shared on a school website. 

As you plan how YOU will showcase your SmartLab this year, consider how you can incorporate and highlight: 

First Assembly Christian School in Memphis, TN, shares a video with their community on Facebook highlighting the value of SmartLab.

Missouri Governor Parson shares his excitement after attending the California Elementary School ribbon cutting in California, Missouri.

Maddox Intermediate School in Jasper, Alabama, shares ongoing news about their SmartLab on Facebook.

How are you showcasing your SmartLab?
Post to the SmartLab Facebook Facilitator group here. You can also tag @smartlablearning on Facebook or @smartlab_tweets on X (Twitter)! 

Haley Ruman
Haley Ruman
Sr. Educational Training Specialist

Haley Ruman is a Sr. Educational Training Specialist at Creative Learning Systems. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Childhood and Early Adolescent Education and a Master's of Education in learning and technology. Her passion for innovative teaching practices and high-quality tech integration led her to Creative Learning Systems where she works with educators across the country to implement student-led, project-based learning.

Case Study

Going beyond STEM to teach essential skills

When the team at Jewell Houston Academy, a magnet school in Texas, looked for a STEM program, they wanted one that would not only engage students in STEM careers but could also teach conflict-resolution, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills.

Read about how the SmartLab HQ impacted both learners and enrollment.