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Facilitator Spotlight: Chris Young

Written by Bill Laurienti
Chris Young

The Oakwood School Innovation Lab

Greenville, North Carolina

Grades 8-12

How long have you been a SmartLab Facilitator?  

3 Years

What is your favorite part of being a SmartLab Facilitator?

Being able to watch students create, without someone stepping in and directing the projects.  Allowing students to come up with their own projects makes for not only deeper learning but much more engagement. 

What is your favorite System of Technology and associated kit/tech, and why? 

Robotics and Control Technology.  The endless possibilities that learners have with these kits are amazing.  If they are not similar you can find step-by-step instructions online, videos, and multiple resources to assist.  If they are more comfortable with it they can explore and create something that has not been done before. 

What advice would you give to yourself as a Year 1 Facilitator?

Worry less about the kits and more about the learning theories behind the lab.  I was so worried about knowing what each kit does when I started.  If you know what each kit does then the more likely you are to step in and show rather than let the students figure it out.  I like to use the expression the problem is what you know, not what you don’t know. 

What are some successes/tips/tricks that you would like to share with other Facilitators?  

I have never answered a question in the lab.  3B4Me is a good tool to start out with. Make sure students research answers rather than rely on someone to do the work for them (such as you telling them the answer).  It takes a while for students to understand this concept because they have spent their whole academic careers getting answers from teachers at the first sign of struggle.  This lab allows them to work through problems rather than just asking questions which makes for more meaningful learning.

What is one interesting thing about yourself that you would like to share?

I recently went back to get a Computer Science certificate from Harvard.  I finished the classes over the summer of 2022.  I am also one of the founders of Rho Sigma Omega, STEAM Honor Society.  This Honor Society is for students in classes that have learning approaches similar to one like the Creative Learning Systems approach; hands-on, active, student-led learning.

Bill.Laurienti
Bill Laurienti

Bill Laurienti is a Content Marketing Specialist at Creative Learning Systems. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education (English) from Colorado Mesa University and a Master of Arts in Secondary Teaching from the University of California's Rossier School of Education. Bill came to CLS after 10 years in the secondary classroom. He believes SmartLabs are important tools for engaging unengaged students and helping them access careers they might not otherwise have imagined.

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