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University Takes Fresh Approach to STEM Education For Future Teachers

The University of Jamestown’s newly installed SmartLab is bringing STEM education into the mix of their Teacher Education Department. As a required course, future teachers become fully certified STEM lab facilitators, something they can boast on their resume after graduation. In an interview with Dr. Leann Nelson, the Teacher Education Department chair, says that none of these future teachers will “teach” in the STEM lab, they allow the students to take responsibility of their next generation learning. Nelson says, “the SmartLab is where students explore STEM and media arts through applied technology and project-based learning”. Nelson further explains how the students can develop something in a fully integrated learning environment that includes furniture, technology, curriculum and assessment to support hands on and minds on learning with up to date technology. Nelson says there is a growing need for technology education.

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North Dakota Partnership Brings STEM Education to Rural Schools

The North Dakota Center for Distance Education (NDCDE) is partnering with Creative Learning Systems(CLS) to bring STEM centers and STEAM programs into rural schools. Over the last two years CLS and NDCDE have worked together to launch twelve programs in rural North Dakota schools. Plans for similar STEM programs in other ND schools are currently in development. These programs bring next-generation STEM education to students. As a result, students all over North Dakota have the opportunity to explore leading-edge technologies while building critical 21st century skills.

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New STEAM Education Labs in Southern California Catholic School

What's a SmartLab? Director of Technology, Beth Thomas, described them as "Learning playgrounds for the students." 

St. Junipero Serra Catholic School in Rancho Margarita, California held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new SmartLab STEAM centers at the beginning of the month. The newly built Student Creation and Leadership Center at Junipero Serra features a STEAM lab for elementary students and a STEAM lab for middle school students. 

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SmartLab Students Recognized by State Legislature for STEM Projects

Students from James Hart Middle School in Homewood District 153, were celebrated in the Illinois state capitol last week!

Students Aaron Latman, Jessica Lyseng and Ellie Wojcikowski, along with SmartLab Facilitator Cheri Pesina, were invited to present STEM projects at the Tech 2018 Illinois program. 

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Best Practices for Robotics STEM Activities in Kindergarten

SmartLab_stem_wedo-elementary-robotics.jpgWe wholeheartedly agree with this insightful article in eSchool News: 3 Reasons to Introduce Kindergartners to Robots.

“Children need to actually touch, manipulate, and experiment with objects in order to fully understand them. Robots bring this physical interaction to the potentially intimidating process of understanding engineering and programming.” 

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Building STEM Engagement through Video

Today’s learners live in a video world. They are active consumers, producers and critics of video content. How do we leverage this fact to deepen interest and understanding in STEM?

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Capstone STEM Project Presentations at Cresthill Middle School

Doug Haller, our Facilitator Support Specialist, recently had the pleasure of attending capstone presentations at Cresthill Middle School in Highlands Ranch, CO. Facilitator Trina Chambers invited parents and Creative Learning Systems staff to observe and provide constructive criticism to students on their final projects. Students shared the results of a two-week intensive study and enthusiastically answered questions that demonstrated their knowledge and experience in the SmartLab.

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Student Work Showcase from the Slater JHS STEM SmartLab!

A little over a year ago, I blogged about the Slater Jr. High School (Pawtucket, RI) SmartLab website.  Slater's Facilitator, John Martinelli, has now expanded the Weebly website with great examples of his student's work.  Check out all the engaging and diverse projects being explored by his learners! Read More

The Real World

We talk a lot about preparing learners for the “real world”.   Over the years, we’ve used terms like workforce readiness or 21st century skills, but it’s always been an important part of our job as educators, and it’s certainly a focus in the SmartLab.  Often, the best we can do in a classroom is simulate real world situations and challenges.  It’s a good start, but many educators strive to do more.

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Student Ammon Love's STEM Education Experience in the SmartLab

As I’ve said before in this blog, it's all about the kids!

My absolute favorite thing to do is drop in on a SmartLab and ask the students, “what’ja doing?”   The learners are so enthusiastic and their project ideas are usually WAY more interesting than anything we come up with when developing the curriculum.   It's also wonderful when a student tells me the SmartLab is their favorite place in school - but I don’t expect them to think about what goes into creating a learning environment like the SmartLab.  Their job is to learn.

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