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SmartLabs employ a unique educational methodology—a methodology that has been developed, tested and refined by Creative Learning Systems since creating the first technology lab in a U.S. school in 1987. We think of it as a bridge from schooling to learning.

Educational Methodology


Our first priority is to get students excited about learning – to engage every learner every day. Engaged learners are intrinsically motivated. They are on-task. They are critical-thinkers. And they achieve.

The first impression upon walking into a SmartLab is how different it looks from a traditional classroom. The environment looks high-tech and professional; collaborative workstations are arranged in “islands” and “peninsulas”. You are surrounded by a diverse range of technologies. Integrated signage inspires learners to explore, discover, collaborate, design and solve. This first impression conveys an important message: learning is different here.

Scope and Sequence

A scope and sequence we call a Score is customized for every SmartLab based on its unique schedule and configuration. In secondary school SmartLabs, the Score provides a road map, guiding each pair of learners through a rotation of project engagements in eight systems of technology (Alternative and Renewable Energy, Circuitry, Computer Graphics, Digital Communications, Mechanics and Structures, Robotics and Control Technology, Scientific Data and Analysis and Software Engineering). Typically, each team of learners will be working on a different project than their classmates. This rotation provides a vibrant mix of experience and promotes synthesis, cross-team collaboration and integration of technologies.

In Elementary SmartLabs, the Score provides a simplified rotation system. Multiple teams of learners engaging in similar projects and whole-class activities allow facilitators to provide younger learners with more guidance.


Students use self-guided online curriculum called Learning Launchers to guide each project engagement. Learning Launchers provide students with a foundation of underlying knowledge, academic connections, technology tutorials and project ideas. Multiple Learning Launchers in each topic area allow students to select an appropriate level of challenge and take their learning as far as they are able.


Most importantly, learning is personalized in the SmartLab. Learning paths and resources are individualized and differentiated and relevance is paramount. Learners are encouraged to shape their projects and explore ideas based on their personal interests and experience.


Assessment in the SmartLab is authentic. Students create ePortfolios with daily learning journals and project presentations. Customizable rubrics designed specifically for project-based learning and provide authentic assessments of the learning process and meaningful self-reflection for learners.

The SmartLab methodology is a powerful, proven learning system. SmartLabs engage and motivate. SmartLabs develop next-generation skills like critical-thinking and problem-solving, collaboration, communication, creativity and adaptability. And SmartLabs engage learners like nowhere else in school.

“The structure of the SmartLab allows for seamless integration of communication skills, collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking.”

—Diana Zakhem, Postsecondary & Workforce Readiness Coordinator, Englewood Schools

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