When Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Chattanooga opened its doors in August, students found a new learning experience waiting for them. That’s because OLPH has added a special kind of classroom called a “SmartLab.”
“The SmartLab is a state-of-the-art classroom called a STEM center [for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics],” said Dr. Caroline Carlin, OLPH principal. “In addition to working with leading-edge technology, students develop critical skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, project management, and communications.”
SmartLab students work in teams to develop scientific data and analysis projects, circuitry, computer graphics, digital communications, mechanics and structures, alternative and renewable energy, software engineering, and robotics and control technology. In the SmartLab, students have the opportunity to explore their project ideas under the supervision of a special kind of teacher called a “facilitator.”
Instead of taking exams, students create e-portfolios to document their learning.
“It’s a challenging learning experience,” said Teresa Hale, SmartLab facilitator, “but because students can explore topics of personal interest, they can rise to the challenge.”
The new SmartLab at OLPH is the first in the Chattanooga area designed and installed by Creative Learning Systems. Creative Learning Systems has been developing technology-based classrooms since 1987. Ashley Mathis, the company’s CEO, said, “With STEM occupations growing twice as fast as all others in the U.S., it’s critical that educators provide learners with hands-on, student-led, project-based learning opportunities.”
Father Arthur Torres, OLPH pastor, added, “I know our students will be excited by the new SmartLab. Our community should certainly be proud of this new next-generation learning resource.”
Our Lady of Perpetual Help School opened in 1937 and now serves 270 students in grades PreK-3 through eighth.