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SmartLab Learning: It’s About the Kids

Written by Bill Laurienti

As we launch our blog, we’re looking forward to sharing our learning philosophy,  new directions in STEM education, impressive case studies, innovative technologies, and more.

But there was never any question that our first post would be about the kids who inspire us.

This video, produced by Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C., is about the robotics team at Chamberlain Elementary School, a Friendship Public Charter School.  The team’s four girls—working out of the Chamberlain SmartLab HQ, are understandably proud of their accomplishments.

In the team’s first year, they were invited to compete in the National Society of Black Engineers robotics conference in Toronto, Canada.

What impressed me most is their approach to problem-solving.  Listen to the way they discuss the challenges and setbacks they encountered in their project.  Listen to how 12-year-old Alexis Martin handles the reporter’s probing questions about what they might have accomplished with more time.

We see this approach to learning and problem-solving every day in SmartLabs across the country. We take great pride in being the place in school where failure is not just tolerated, but celebrated. We take great pleasure in visiting schools where the kids speak more enthusiastically about what didn’t work in their project challenges than what did.

These young girls understand that the reward for all their hard work is found in the process of the project, not its outcome. And they understand that, if they choose to pursue their early interest in engineering, it is the mastery of this process that employers will value.

I am richly rewarded every time I visit a SmartLab HQ like Chamberlain Elementary. I learn so much. The kids give us valuable guidance to continuously improve our program offering.

More important, we are reminded why we feel so passionately about our approach to learning. Now, as always, it’s about the kids.

D.C. Students Build Their Own Robot:

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

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.