By Kim Durfee
Technology and Engineering Teacher and TSA Advisor at Herriman High School
Have you ever had an idea that would make a task easier? What can a talented and motivated learner achieve in a true 21st century learning environment? How about creating a mechanical prosthetic hand for his niece? Tanner Day, a senior at Herriman High School, will tell you that all he needed was the right idea, the right resources and a place in his school where he was free to be creative and express his passion for building things. Tanner and many other students find this perfect combination within the SmartLab™. In Tanner’s case, having a supportive mentor/SmartLab™ facilitator to encourage him and a beautiful little niece for inspiration didn’t hurt.
In my 30 plus years of teaching, the most rewarding years have been the last 20 as a SmartLab™ facilitator watching kids achieve more than they ever imaged they could. Every year we have students like Tanner who catch on fire with an inspiring project idea that causes them to stretch and grow in ways that makes you proud to be a part of their growing experience. We can motive and inspire hundreds students like Tanner by providing them with access to state of the art technology, equipment, curriculum and the space and freedom to be creative. I have personally watched my SmartLab™ students and many others in SmartLabs all around the country, develop engineering skills, but more importantly the 21st century learning skills they need to be career and college ready. Whether it’s a TSA robotics competition championship or one of my students taking first place at the Utah Film Festival, the method, the story of how they got there is the same…student-centered, project based learning. SmartLabs are 21st century learning environments, custom designed and supported by Creative Learning Systems.
See what other SmartLab™ students from around the country are doing at Student Project Showcase.
Nationally, engineering is the second largest of all professions. According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, by the year 2020 Utah’s workforce is expected to include a total of 25,670 people working as engineers, drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians.
The Technology Student Association (TSA) is the only student organization dedicated exclusively to students enrolled in Technology and Engineering classes in grades 7-12. TSA fosters personal growth, leadership training, career development, teamwork, community service, competitive events, and student recognition to supplement the curriculum in Technology and Engineering. To become a member of Utah TSA contact the TSA advisor in your school.
If you have an idea that would make a task easier and would like to participate in a Technology and Engineering Pathway talk to your school counselor. Your school counselor can assist you with registering for a Career and Technical Education class in the Technology and Engineering Pathway that will give you the opportunity to work in a SmartLab™.