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South Dakota Middle School Learns Next-Generation Skills with STEM Activities

Written by Bill Laurienti

“Twenty-five years ago, computer class consisted of not much more than typing practice and playing Oregon Trail. Today, students are programming robots, making movies, building cars, composing ringtones and a lot more in SmartLab.” 

That’s what was said about Brandon Valley Middle School in South Dakota in the article entitled, “SmartLab Makes for SmartKids.”

The article offers a glimpse into the diverse STEM activities that take place every day in a typical SmartLab HQ. It also explores many of the benefits the school derives from implementing a SmartLab Learning program along with the next-generation skills learned by all students of all abilities.

Principal Brad Thorson summed it up nicely, “It’s awesome to see kids use their creativity and create different ideas. It’s an awesome addition to our school.”

The most popular technology is the 3D printing. One student created a divot repair tool to be used in golf.

For students to use the 3D printer, they first need to figure out how it works and how to bring an idea to life. With a lot of trial and error, students explore many different avenues of learning.

“The big thing for me is that they’re learning things and still having the freedom to be creative and still make it practical,” said Sam Kruse, the SmartLab Director at Brandon Valley Middle School.

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.

Case Study

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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.