The Lower School Design Lab is a catalyst for creativity and inspiration where students actively work together to come up with creative solutions to problems. For Lower School design team member and technology coordinator Rick Campbell, it is the best place to be on Campus.
“My students love to do projects that involve technology and building,” says Rick. “Sometimes they design simple computer games. Other times they use a green screen, music, and characters to create a movie about a curricular topic.”
In 2015, the design lab became part of the Lower School’s Design Thinking Program. An instructional team composed of library, science, drama, design, tech, and classroom teachers guide students in the process of discovery learning through developing, building, and testing an invention or idea. As part of the design team, Rick helps students incorporate technology into their projects.
“I help provide technology learning challenges for students in Grades 3 to 5,” says Rick. “Projects have included robotics, coding, electronics, and digital storytelling using stop-motion animation production.”
This concept of creative, project-based, active learning is not new to Rick; his first introduction was when he was in fifth grade.
“My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Morton, encouraged us to be creative,” says Rick. “We wrote plays and puppet shows, created sets and assembled costumes, organized sound and special effects, and performed our creations before our peers and parents.
“The active learning approach resonated with me so much as a kid,” he continues. “I am committed to being an educator so I could provide similar experiences for my students to learn the same way.”
“The active learning approach resonated with me so much as a kid. I am committed to being an educator so I could provide similar experiences for my students to learn the same way.”
Prior to Parker, Rick taught elementary grades in Japan and Germany, where he got to explore his active learning approach to teaching.
“My aspirations were confirmed when I taught fifth grade for 10 years in Frankfurt, Germany. Students far exceeded my expectations when I assigned project-based learning projects. To this day, I have remained committed as an educator to this constructivist learning approach.”
But, when Rick started at Parker in 1992, it would be a long time before he got to step back into the classroom.
“When I started at Parker over 26 years ago, it was before the world wide web was born! In my first 10 years at Parker, I helped establish the technology department, served as its first director, integrated about 600 computers into the classrooms and labs on all three divisions, and oversaw the first school-wide fiber optic network, first Parker website, and its first email system.”
Rick says even though his position at Parker has grown and changed over the years, he says he is happy to be back in the classroom helping his students.
“The explosion of creative energy by all these learners continues to energize and motivate me as an educator. My greatest satisfaction comes when I hear my students have remembered and successfully applied what they learned in the design lab to new challenges.”