TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Texarkana Arkansas School District is enhancing its elementary curriculum with the addition of Smart Labs.

The Board of Trustees recently approved the purchase of Smart Labs at Harmony Leadership Academy, North Heights Community School, and Fairview Elementary.

“I think it will be an awesome experience for our kids,” said Fairview Elementary teacher, Pam Carter. “They’re going to get to experience things that they’ve never been able to do before and won’t be able to at most elementary schools.”

The labs will provide more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math opportunities to students through project-based learning.

“The idea is that students choose which projects they’re going to be working on,” said Fairview Elementary School principal Bryan McDonald, Principal. “Instead of having a kit for the entire class, you’ve got a bunch of kits and so you’ve got six or eight groups of students all working on something that meets their interest and ability levels.”

In the three schools, rooms that were previously computer labs will be converted into Smart Labs. Student groups of two to four children will be placed in pods to work on STEM projects. The labs will provide everything students need to complete the projects. The projects will include things like robotics, coding, and science experiments.

McDonald says TASD has been a project-based learning district for about six years, and this move will support that philosophy.

“It really encourages students to think outside the box, using project-based learning incorporates what we’re already working on in reading and writing,” said McDonald. “They will get to work on their presentation skills as they present their final projects to their peers.”

The labs are expected to be installed this summer and be ready by next school year.

The cost of the labs will be about $725,000 and paid for by the district’s elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds.