Nov 14

Next Generation Design from the Charlotte Lab School in North Carolina

By: Valerie Wright

Dr. Mary Moss Brown, with the Charlotte Lab School in Charlotte, North Carolina gave a presentation about the role of the learning space on next generation design.

The Charlotte Lab School’s mission is to redesign the school experience.  That experience is realized through the community as a Partner Learner, collaborative efforts, and being cutting edge.  The school focuses on an engaged student-centered body, ‘real-world’ curriculum, a smaller more nurturing community, and specific programs designed to support students’ social, emotional, and metacognitive development.  On their website:, they talk about imagining a school that could better prepare students today for the world of tomorrow, where they…

*Solve real-world challenges;

*Collaborate with people from all backgrounds;

*Understand themselves as learners;

*Participate as members of a community;

*Communicate in a second language;

*Use the city and greenspaces as their classroom;

*Learn, build, and think with creativity and joy.

One of the first quotes that Dr. Brown used was this one from Tony Wagner – “The world no longer cares what you know. The world cares about what you can do with what you know.”

What project based and student based experiences contribute to allow students to be prepared for college and career in this fast paced technological world.

At the Charlotte Lab School, as a parent, you can expect these to be part of the school experience:

  1. Joyful
  2. Diverse
  3. Small & Nurturing
  4. Real World


How do they measure and attain:

Community as our Classroom

Personalization of Learning

Academic Foundation

Community Wellness

Global Awareness

Workplace Success

How do they build-in agility in their classrooms with furniture to change with the times through?

  1. Innovation
  2. Diversity
  3. Choice


In what spaces and with what furniture will students be able to:

  1. Find Stillness
  2. Have Tools for Focus
  3. Participate in Movement
  4. Take Brain Breaks


The school has utilized many of the above stated goals and principles by participating in the Cardboard Challenge through Google.  Check out Cain’s Arcade Global Cardboard Challenge at  Charlotte Lab School participates in the Challenge presented by the Imagination Foundation which celebrates child creativity and the role communities can play in fostering it.  Until Dr. Brown’s talk, I hadn’t heard of the Cardboard Challenge.  As an aside, check-out the documentary on the young man who originally came up with the idea:  Caine’s Arcade, released in 2012, featuring Nirvan Mullick.



Tags: 21st century learning, Architecture, Education Categories: Blog