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Our innovative, student-centered curriculum forms the foundation of SmartLab learning. We call them Learning Launchers. With over 600 Learning Launchers in more than 100 topic areas, students explore a wide range of projects and challenge levels. This engaging online, inquiry-based curriculum is accessed through the LaunchPad navigation system, a customizable, user-friendly interface. SmartLab curriculum is fully-articulated and provides authentic learning for grades K–12.

Learning Launchers Curriculum

Each Learning Launcher engagement provides:

  • Engaging, hands-on, minds on, project-based activities in STEM/STEAM and related topics
  • Applied technology to reinforce academics with real-world learning and build next-generation skills
  • Student-centered with multiple challenge levels, sustained inquiry activities and opportunities for students to shape and expand learning around their own interests, abilities, and learning styles
  • Connections to core academic content and alignment to standards
  • Extension activities for advanced learners to explore topics in even greater depth

Systems of Technology

  • Circuitry
  • Computer Graphics
  • Digital Communications
  • Mechanics and Structures
  • Robotics and Control Technology
  • Scientific Data and Analysis
  • Software Engineering
  • Sustainability

Learning Levels

  • Activity Cards: Printable cards designed to meet the needs of the youngest learners in grades K–2. Introductory, whole-class STEM learning experiences featuring developmentally appropriate hands-on learning resources.
  • Express and Liftoff Challenges: Project-based activities created with elementary students in mind. Students explore STEM/STEAM topics and applied technology concepts with support from tutorials and tips.
  • Learning Launchers Levels 1,2, and 3: Collaborative, project-based learning experiences for secondary school students. A variety of challenge levels inspire students to develop their skills and understanding of applied technologies and engage in their own original inquiry.

STEM for Learners of All Abilities

Learning Launchers guide SmartLab learning with a wide selection of hands-on, minds-on projects in STEM/STEAM and applied technology. Project activities link technology concepts to core academic content in a way that’s engaging, relevant, and student-centered. Vertical alignment of the curriculum fosters differentiated learning. SmartLabs meet learners where they are and empower them to go as far as they’re able.

Here’s a small sample of some of our Learning Launcher topics:


  • Arduino: Design, build, and test programmable circuits that interact with the environment.
  • Pneumatics: Learn about the compressibility of gasses and how to harness the power of air to do work. Explore Bernoulli’s Principle and enhance pneumatic circuits by adding electrically controlled pneumatic solenoids.
  • Snap Circuits: Explore electricity and electromagnets as you build real working circuits.

Computer Graphics

  • Photoshop Elements: Use photo editing software to enhance photos, create pop art, and digital composite images.
  • Tinkercad: Design three-dimensional objects and scale models using computer software then print designs on a 3D printer.
  • Carvey: Transfer 3D designs to a 3D mill machine capable of carving creations out of wood, metal, and plastic.

Digital Communications

  • Animation-ish: Use animation software to bring original stories and ideas to life.
  • InDesign: Learn to use the publishing and typesetting software InDesign to create works for professional and personal purposes.
  • WordPress: Design, create, and edit web content for websites and blogs.

Mechanics and Structures

  • Fischertechnik Mechanic + Static: Explore simple and compound machines and create machines with great mechanical advantage by using different gears and gear systems.
  • K’Nex: Use K’nex building tools to create machines that can complete tasks and to explore the relationship between machines and art.
  • IQ Key: Explore the concept of mechanical advantage and experiment with gear ratios to design and test various machines.

Robotics and Control Technology

  • Ozobot: Discover how structures, mechanics, and programming interact with this fun, easy-to-use beginning robotics system.
  • VEX Robotics Design System: Learn more complex robotic controls using a remote and joystick; learn to program and control “smart” robots.
  • Lego Mindstorms EV3 Robotics: Program advanced robot behaviors to conduct scientific explorations through repetitive testing and modify programming for more precise data collection.

Scientific Data and Analysis

  • Google Earth: Experience virtual maps of historic places, learn to geotag images, create maps, and collect and analyze GPS information.
  • Stellarium: Learn the basics about astronomical objects, track astronomical motion, and predict the best time to view future astronomical events.
  • Vernier Scientific Sensors: Use sensors to collect and analyze data ranging from the reflectivity of light, to heart rates, and even conduct a comprehensive environmental survey of the community. A variety of activities are designed to support the learning of K–12 students.

Software Engineering

  • Kodu Game Lab: Design and create computer games and learn how to control objects and scenarios with block code.
  • Scratch: Use creativity and work collaboratively to program interactive stories, games, and animations.
  • App Inventor: Learn how to develop and troubleshoot applications for smartphones.


  • Energy Efficiency: Explore the consequences of recycling and urban heat islands, calculate carbon footprints, and conduct home energy audits with the help of sensors such as the watt meter and infrared camera.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Learn how hydrogen fuel cells electrolyze water to produce hydrogen fuel and experiment with real Horizon hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Solar Energy: Explore solar energy and its uses including solar water pasteurization, solar home design, and solar cooking.

“It’s a robust learning environment for students that is relevant. It’s rigorous, tied to core academics and aligned to standards.”

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

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