The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions. Sir Ken Robinson

Change in K-12 public education is often beset by what we call, “The Re-Form- the again and again repetition of repairing an old structure." Even as we inch closer to the first quarter mark of the 21st century, many good-minded people will continue to reform education within the parameters of traditional 20th century didactic teaching and learning practices.

By didactic, we're referring to a telling mode of teaching where learning is teacher-centered.
  • Teachers tell information to either a whole class or smaller groups of instruction. This mode of instruction is commonly referred to as direct instruction.

  • Students are required to process this telling information auditorily during a large percentage of their school day.

  • Teachers tell and present information from the front of class, often determined by a chalkboard, whiteboard or possibly now, an interactive whiteboard with an AV presentation system.

  • Students sit in the same assigned spot all day or class period and face the front of the room. Typically, the class has the same sized desks and chairs arranged in either symmetrical rows or pods of 4-6 desks and chairs arranged together.

  • Student achievement is measured by a student’s ability to retain the telling information from the teacher. Assessment of students is primarily based on their memorization and the ability to reproduce the telling information onto a specific type of paper and pencil test, or paper/pencil-like test appropriated to software. 

Notwithstanding the technology just mentioned, generations of 20th century students typically learned this way in school. What is striking about education in the 21st century to date, is the general rhythm of teacher-centered instruction is largely unchanged despite innovations like digital technologies, collaborative teaming in the world of work, and national content and technology standards. Simply put, reform in education does not work as systems change. Systems change in K-12 education in the United States are like cars in Cuba. Cubans can only fix the cars they’ve had since the 1950’s because no new cars are allowed in their country. K-12 education in the United States is much like a 1955 Chevy, we can keep fixing it up, even restore it, but it's still a mid-20th century model.

A Curriculum Literally Apart

As educators, we often hear the phrase, “It’s integrated in the curriculum.” “It” being, anything that has been identified in teaching and learning as something that should transcend across any subject like- reading, writing, communication, and technology skills. These are the common literacies most cited by educators as integrated in the curriculum. As for content integration, traditional didactic practices long ago segregated content into separate subjects of Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies, often called, “the core four.” In K-5, the core subjects are still most often taught separate from one another in a block of time during the school day. In 6-12, the core four and their derivative subjects are taught as courses that are scheduled typically in 6 or 7 periods as the school day.

If you consider this key structure of how content is divided and time-marked for every school day, you begin to realize the travesty of educational reforms in America. The bedrock of subjects taught in blocks of time where student achievement is measured through testing of the same segregated subjects, is essentially an inauthentic process of learning. This inauthenticity is repetitive, it extends across students’ K-12 years and fundamentally limits how human-beings come to understand the things of this world.

In relation to content isolation, if we look at reading and writing as traditionally-termed literacy, these skills are still generally taught separately during Language Arts time or English period. As children transition from elementary to secondary schools, the ongoing learning of English becomes even more segregated from other subjects taught by separate teachers in separate classrooms.

For educational technology, from the late 1970’s our country was moving from an analog to digital world and students began to be more exposed to personal desktop computers at school. During this time, 'digital literacy' of hardware/software, and 'media literacy' pertaining to the engagement and understanding of media in digital forms emerged. Today, both digital and media literacies are blurred together in the use of devices, applications and services with the consumption and creation of digital content and the social and ethical practices that lie within.

However, just like traditional literacy, digital literacy and media literacy were isolated from the other subjects into what every student since the early 1980’s has known as 'computer lab time.' Historically, through a general lack of funding for personal desktop computers in K-12, schools clustered their computers in one room and thus established a practice for a one-size-fits-all computer instruction. The typical parental question of, “What did you do in school today?” was often answered by the 1980’s-90’s K-12 student as, “computer,” as a subject unto itself rather than as a tool used within an activity. The legacy of these technology practices continue today in two forms. One, students still go to a computer lab as a block of time with all students doing the same single subject activity on their desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. Two, each student in class singularly uses a mobile computing device altogether with their classmates, doing the same activity.

In didactic instructional environments, you can take the computers out of the lab but not the computer lab mentality out of the teacher-centered use of the devices. In effect, much of K-12 education systems continue old practices with new mobile devices.

Transformational Systems Change Through Integrated Studies

Transformation, a complete change in the appearance or character of something or someone” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2018). We believe that words matter. Authentic systems change happens through a process of transformation versus a process of reform. The difference in K-12 education is that reform often changes innovative pedagogical practices in isolation from one another, as transformation integrates those same innovative pedagogical practices as one.

Systems change for K-12 schools in the 21st century begins with local level leadership to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). However, these standards will retain traditional reform practices taught in content isolation unless a much larger and complete change occurs. This transformation for K-12 schools will begin with progressive transitional steps from curriculum subjects being taught separately from one another, to the integration of the subjects being unpacked together through thematic big idea units of study. This learning practice is often called, Interdisciplinary Studies. We have embraced the term, Integrated Studies from the George Lucas Educational Foundation website publication Edutopia, as the "innovations and best practices for combining multiple academic subjects to prepare students for a world where all knowledge is integrated (2018)."

The concept of integrated studies is not new as Maria Montessori proved back in 1907, when she opened her first child-centered school in Rome. Today, integrated studies is in fact a common topic among educators that is most uncommon in actual practice within a typical school district in the United States. What you will see are specialty schools that have adopted or have been selected by a school district administration to build a themed curriculum that is linked through units of study, projects, and/or the world of work. Many Magnet and Charter schools have lead efforts here in the United States. Progressive inquiry-based curriculums such as the International Baccalaureate Program (IB) are increasing every year in U.S. schools. STEM and now STEAM (Science Technology Engineering, Art, and Math) continue to grow with an integrated studies approach in select K-8 schools. 

Forward thinking high schools have designed academies with a world of work emphasis in Health and Medical, IT, Engineering Design, Graphic Design, and Business to name a few examples. Often these academies are created with an integrated studies team of teachers representing all the subject areas and college and career courses in a project-based model. However, and with few exceptions, most of these newly branded schools or academies within a school are still bound in a traditional structure of subjects taught separate from one another in separate blocks of time. We say all of this is slow and steady progress as transformation most often begins with many steps of transition.

The Integration of Learning Design, Physical Space Design, and Digital Space Design

Constructivist Learning Design

Constructivist learning is based on the theory that people actively construct knowledge, skills and values through experiences in their physical and social environments. We continually construct are own understanding as we encounter new experiences and reflect upon our previous knowledge, skills and values.

Here, constructivist learning design is embodied through integrated studies to facilitate the combined practices of  inquiry-based learning + project-based learning + social and emotional learning as a framework for crafting engaging learning environments.

We present this vision for integrated studies that follows a constructivist philosophy and pedagogy as the engine for a K-12 transformational systems change. Our approach to learning design comes from the groundbreaking work of Jean Piaget and Seymour Papert. Jacqueline G. Brooks and Martin G. Brooks state in their book, In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms (1999):

Each of us makes sense of our world by synthesizing new experiences into what we had previously come to understand. Often, we encounter an object, idea, a relationship, or a phenomenon that doesn't quite make sense to us. When confronted with such initially discrepant data or perceptions, we either interpret what we see to conform to our present set of rules for explaining and ordering our world, or we generate a new set of rules that better accounts for what we perceive to be occurring. Either way, our perceptions and rules are constantly engaged in a grand dance that shapes our understanding.

Building from constructivist theory, Seymour Papert advocated, “learning is most effective when part of an activity the learner experiences as constructing a meaningful product” (1987). Papert’s Situating Constructionism with Idit Harel (1991) is often referred to as “learning by making,” but both believed learning to be "much richer and more multifaceted, and very much deeper in its implications than could be conveyed by any such formula."

In a 1980’s speech, Papert uses mathematics to illustrate his position:

I think part of the trouble with learning mathematics at school is that it's not like mathematics in the real world. In the real world, there are engineers, who use mathematics to make bridges or make machines. There are scientists, who use mathematics to make theories, to make explanations of how atoms work, and how the universe started. There are bankers, who use mathematics to make money -- or so they hope.

But children, what can they make with mathematics? Not much. They sit in class and they write numbers on pieces of paper. That's not making anything very exciting. So we've tried to find ways that children can use mathematics to make something -- something interesting, so that the children's relationship to mathematics is more like the engineer's, or the scientist's, or the banker's, or all the important people who use mathematics constructively to construct something.

From Piaget and Papert we get a real-world philosophy for education that reflects the authentic world of human activity and endeavor. Constructivist pedagogy (how we learn) is essentially our human nature, it combines a person’s or group’s ability to solve problems with that person’s or group’s ability to make things in their world, as lifelong learners.

In Part I, We present a process that combines two essential learning models, Inquiry-based Learning + Project-based Learning as a constructivist learning design. Inquiry-based learning directly taps into our nature to be curious in the exploration of a big idea through questioning, problems or scenarios organized in a research process. Project-based learning is the process designed within a project that leads to creating a product. We see these two learning models as "the dynamic duo" structures for integrated studies unit development.

If constructivist learning design is the engine that drives our new twenty-first century educational car, then physical space design and digital space design represent the chassis, body, interior and technology that complete it.

Today, a majority of K-12 school’s physical learning environment is still a traditional reflection of our preparation for the past industrial-age workforce. Here, we propose integrating physical and digital spaces that are engaging, and that complement our constructivist practices for problem-solving and product making into learning spaces that promote social and emotional learning.

Flexible Physical Space Design


  • a classroom is a place where students are taught.

  • a library is a place to research, read or study.

  • a lab is a place for hands-on learning activities.

  • a studio is a place where things or performances are created.

In Part II, Flexible Physical Space Design embodies the pedagogical change from teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning. Here, the physical learning space itself plays a key role in our students mental and physical well-being and becomes embedded with a school’s overall social and emotional learning plans. Traditional learning spaces designed with a singular purpose are transformed to multi-purpose learning spaces. This transformation from 20th-century to 21st-century learning spaces uses a new lexicon to describe the metamorphosis from -

  1. Classroom to Learning Studio

  2. Library to Learning Commons

  3. Lab to Makerspace

Classrooms, libraries, and labs are the three most common learning spaces within any K-12 school. These spaces now take on a more eclectic function as all can become places for learning, collaboration, personal space, and active movement contained within the same room. As classrooms and labs become more flexible, we can start to take a fresh look at the whole space that is typically no more  and often less than 960 square feet. The current terms of flexible seating and 'the flexible classroom' are laid out with groupings of various 'micro learning spaces' or 'micro making spaces.' In libraries, we typically have more area space to work with and can craft larger groupings of 'learning zones.' Educators are empowered as interior designers to create a learning space that now includes a broader mix of hard and soft furniture made for: school, office, work, hotel, restaurant, and home living spaces. These spaces may also be equipped with a variety of making materials and technology tools appropriate to the age group of students.

These flexible learning spaces are both collaborative and personally crafted by teachers, librarians and their students to directly facilitate a constructivist learning model. We feel that student achievement optimally occurs when schools can raise the level of student creativity by providing a social and emotional safe nest for all individuals to thrive within a face-to-face learning environment.

This book will focus on interior learning space design over new school construction or renovation projects where existing walls/structures are remodeled to create a new space. We want to unpack our ideas here for physical space projects for educators working within existing building spaces. These building, no matter if they were constructed in the 20th or 21st century are most often architecturally designed in what Prakash Nair describes as, "cells and bells" (Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning (2014). 

Anyone who has gone to a K-12 school in the U.S. has directly experienced thousands of hours in typically the square or rectangular box of a classroom clustered in a single or double row building wing of classroom cells. Students typically stay in the one cell, learning a single subject, until the bell rings or content scheduled period ends.

It is in this context where we begin with the great majority of classrooms built with the industrial-era DNA of human management superseding human engagement. Our mission here is to create strategies that craft student-centered learning environments within these "sit and listen" teacher-centered box spaces.

"Cells and Bells"

Traditional Classroom Architectural Design

Personalized Digital Space Design

In Part III, Personalized Digital Space Design is presented as the orchestrated use of digital devices, applications and services that help accomplish student-centered tasks in face-to-face and online learning environments.

Digital technologies in this second decade of the 21st century are finally beginning to disrupt traditional K-12 education systems. As mobile devices and web applications have taken the world by storm; cloud computing has created a centralized personalization and socialization of information that conflicts with traditional K-12 practices lead by teachers mainly using direct instruction. From a historical perspective, personal computers from the 1980 - early 2000’s were decentralized in the sense that they all stood alone with their local hard drive. Computers in schools therefore needed to be clustered together in the same room, all having the same software, to be used in a teacher-centered environment.

It wasn’t until cloud computing came along in the mid-2000’s to centralize storage, applications and services all together. This centralization through the Internet allowed people to personalize their own content on any device they used like phones, laptops, tablets desktop computers, and TV viewing. Within the last decade, mobile devices working within a centralized network have in effect infiltrated the traditional school curriculum by sheer cultural osmosis. For teachers and students, cloud computing has created a new menu of options for their own, consumer IT. Teachers and students can now design much of their own digital space in the cloud rather than just use what a school district provides or tells them what they can use for devices, applications, and services.

Currently, we live in a time where even a larger picture of personalized technology is emerging. This personalization is evolving as students both consume and create content. Much of our effort in this ebook supports students creating all kinds of things. We want students using digital devices, apps and services to create content, images and objects as active makers versus say, passive receptors of social media.

As technological innovations continue to create major disruptions in our current world of work, these innovations cause both negative and positive outcomes for people in the workforce. Technology will eventually eliminate many jobs that exist today, but it also creates many more new jobs yet to exist. As co-authors, we see all this as a positive opportunity for students in the United States to invent themselves as a new generation of American makers. Not only will these young people be option driven consumers, but they will also be the self-directed and team-driven creators of new things in a new economy.

These same technological innovations will also have tremendous implications for K-12 teaching and learning in this country. We believe that these disruptions of innovation will provide the sparks toward a K-12 systems change transformation and new age of constructivism for the 21st century. In this ebook, We identify three essential design elements for K-12 learning: pedagogy, learning environment and technology. These three elements are often written about singularly in educational publications, but are rarely fully integrated together into a school system’s strategic planning and instructional deployment to students. It is our hope that this ebook helps empower local learning communities to orchestrate constructivist practices through their own educational integration of:

  • Learning Design through integrated studies in inquiry and project-based learning,

  • Physical Space Design in flexible learning spaces and,

  • Digital Space Design using cloud computing to personalize an individuals creative endeavors. 

And, a final thought before we start this journey

We are going to presume, you the reader of this ebook, have or want to have a leadership role in K-12 education. Experience has taught us that disrupting the norms of K-12 instruction comes with the head bob and weave of a professional boxer. People within or around your school are going to love what you are doing, be indifferent, or dislike what you are doing in 'their school.' Social Science has a term for that called, Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) Theory, developed by E.M. Rogers in 1962. In short, the theory explains how a social group of people come to accept a new idea as it spreads throughout the group, overtime. This graphic (from ResearchGate, 2017) shows the bell curve of the adoption process of the idea and the challenge of the innovators to move forward with the idea.

This ebook empowers the 16% of innovators and early adopters to craft your school’s transformation to an engaging 21st century learning environment. With that said, the early adopters need to bring their social skills to work. Behavior change begins by example through humble modeling. We highly recommend the “seed and feed” approach to innovation when working at a local school community. Here are some essential tips.

  • Nurture the 16% cream by gently stirring so that the other 84% does not get petty, jealous, or actively or passively work against the innovators and early adopters.

  • People in authority at the central offices and school site should NOT make others change their learning space overnight. Remember, you are seeding the forest and not just replanting a bunch of grown trees in hard soil. For example -

    • Changing fixed furniture (with glides) to caster wheels is an acquired style and strategy that takes time through collaborative learning practices. Flexible furniture and mobile technology follow constructivist pedagogy and collaborative learning, NOT precede it.

  • Try to get an early adopter at every grade level or team for professional learning. The early adopters are your true game changers to integrate the three design elements that will be essential for transformation.

  • Crawl before you walk and walk before your run. Slow and steady with many incremental transitions wins your school’s transformational marathon.

About the Authors

Douglas G. McIntosh

Doug is a K-12 teacher who in 2014 completed a successful thirty-five-year career in special and general education in San Diego Unified School District. Here’s a brief history.

  • Doug was a special education teacher for students with severe multiple disabilities. He created many electrical control devices for these student’s communication and leisure. He also created professional development for teachers and parents working and living with these students. In 1983, he started a non-profit business called, "Designs for Success" that fabricated individualized adaptations for students with disabilities. Doug was also the District’s first Assistive Technology Resource Teacher, which later grew into its own Assistive Technology Department under Special Education Services.

  • In general education, Doug taught Kindergarten and later became a K-6 Computer Lab Teacher.

  • He served many years as a central office K-12 Magnet Schools and Educational Technology Resource Teacher for the District. During these years, Doug worked with many talented colleagues and teamed to provide inquiry-based professional development that integrated technology in learning activities. Doug also evaluated and field tested many hardware products and furniture that became District standards in classrooms, libraries and labs, including: Macs, Windows and Linux laptop computers and cart systems, student standing desks, teacher wireless microphone/audio systems, video projectors, document cameras, interactive whiteboards and eliminating the traditional teacher desk for a multimedia presentation station. In Ed Tech, Doug created a website called the Product Price List with images and descriptions that was very popular for many years with District teachers and staff to view all the district technology and AV furniture standards. 

  • As an Ed Tech Resource Teachers, Doug was tasked to work with the District's Facilities Planning staff to assist with new school construction with the technology integration of classroom audio systems, video presentation systems and laptop computers.

  • In 2009, Dan Wolfson (Educational Technology Program Manager) and Doug McIntosh co-created the i21 Learning Initiative which over five years provided professional development for the District-wide deployment of interactive whiteboards, sound system, presentation station and 1:1 laptops for every classroom and teacher in the District. Dan and Doug wrote the first strategic planning drafts for the entire deployment.

  • Doug finished his teaching career at Mission Bay High School in San Diego as both their International Baccalaureate (IB) Coordinator and Technology Coordinator. Working with school staff and the community, Doug helped grow and promote the IB program to a level of sustainability as it continues to prosper today. He also created sit/stand options for students in classrooms and transformed the library into a learning commons.

Back in 2009, Doug created a personal website called Micro Learning Spaces and later, Collaborative Learning Spaces as a free informational service to educators, parents and students based on his work in K-12 learning environments. 

In 2014, Doug took his experience and passion for teaching and learning to start his own educational consulting business, 
Groupwerk, Inc. 

Doug worked with technology and furniture vendors to design and create unique learning spaces. It was during this time that Doug advocated the 20th to 21st century transformation of a school's three most common learning spaces from- c
lassrooms to learning studios, libraries to learning commons and, labs to makerspaces.
In 2019, Doug co-founded Flex Learning Spaces™ with Jerry Van Wey and is currently the Director of Learning Environment Design. Flex Learning Spaces™ is a furniture vendor and AV integrator for K-12 schools. 
As an educator, Doug designs with a holistic approach to integrate learning design with physical and digital space design. He typically works directly with educators at their school site to bring knowledge of content, pedagogy, and technology within various learning environments as a linked circle of learning. Doug’s educational philosophy, active school projects, and resources are the inspiration for the contents of this free ebook started here in 2009 as Micro Learning Spaces with progressive iterations that continue to this day. 

Richard Oka

Richard has taught Engineering Design and Mathematics in the San Diego Unified School district since 2012. He is currently teaching for a Linked-Learning Academy of Engineering Design and coaching a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team at Clairemont High School.

In 1992, Richard graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Rhetoric and Minor in Business Administration. He lived in International House during his senior year at Berkeley and then spent a year abroad in Tokyo, Japan.

Over a four year period in the early 1990s, Richard was involved in a variety of careers and industries which included: accounting/finance, production planning and logistics at a manufacturer, and media planning at an advertising agency. By 1996, he found himself missing the conversations he had with his friends from high-school and college. Realizing that almost without fail these people were involved in STEM career paths, Richard decided to re-boot his career and pursue a 2nd bachelor’s degree in the sciences.  His initial plan was to enter the biotechnology industry.

Early on in his studies, Richard quite literally stumbled into an activity that became for him a fascinating pastime and passion - tutoring high school age students in math and science for the Oakland Unified School district, and in the recovery ward in Oakland Children’s Hospital.

By the late 1990s, Richard had both deliberately (in himself) and spontaneously (in tutoring others) discovered how how life-changing a good teaching and learning experience can be. This experience made Richard resolve to become involved in education at some point in the future.

  • Molecular Dynamics - Quality Inspector at a manufacturer of DNA Sequencers for the Human Genome Project.

  • Powderject Pharmaceuticals - Laboratory Technician for needle-free drug injection device.

  • Researcher and engineering support for an orthopedic biomechanics research laboratory affiliated with UCSD School of Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego.

After some soul-searching and deliberation - Richard decided in 2006 that his heart was in helping new generations of scientists and researchers make the world better.

As he was working as a reader and as a teaching assistant in university undergraduate engineering courses, Richard recalled his experience in the late 90s working with high school students that are traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields. He had the revelation that his work would be more impactful, and more personally rewarding, if he could work in public high schools. By this point in his life, Richard understood that encouragement and development of his interest in STEM earlier as a teenager would have completely altered the course of his life. Hence, he decided to spend his career providing those life-altering exposures to youth - in the hopes that everyone could have a professional career that they could be passionate about.

For 2011-2012, Richard enrolled in the teaching credential program at San Diego State University. For his student teaching, Richard was present at the inception of the Sustainable Academy for Building and Engineering (SABE) at Hoover High School. Here, he was exposed to the concept of project-based learning - and created of lessons in mathematics (Geometry) with design and building projects in mind.

Richard obtained a California Single-Subject Credential in Mathematics and a Designated-Subjects Credential in Engineering & Design in 2012.

Mission Bay High School - 2012

Richard was hired as a teacher at Mission Bay High School immediately upon completing the Teaching Credential Program. He was hired to teach Mathematics (regular and for International Baccalaureate Program) as well as a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) course called Biotechnical Engineering.

Biotechnical Engineering was particularly exciting for Richard as it allowed him to directly draw from experiences in biotech - both industry and academia. Richard geared many of the lessons and activities towards students interested in healthcare, San Diego’s dynamic biotech industry, and biomechanics for students with interest in athletics. Richard also engaged in discussions with faculty in mathematics and biology (particularly IB teachers) about creating joint projects or aligning curriculum to enhance the learning experience for students.

In the summer of 2013, Richard was awarded an externship at Qualcomm through Industry Initiatives in Science and Engineering (formerly known as IISME, they have rebranded themselves as IgnitED). Here, he was exposed to  21st Century Skills and impressed the need to actively help students develop professional skills in a secondary school setting.

Clairemont High School, Academy of Engineering Design - 2015 to Present

Richard is currently having the time of his life teaching primarily Engineering Design courses (Project Lead the Way, PLTW) for the Academy of Engineering Design. Richard has participated in teams of teachers of English/Language Arts, History, Biology, Physics and Mathematics to create interdisciplinary design projects for students in the Academy. For his efforts at creating and implementing engaging projects, Richard was awarded the 2018 Career Pathway Teacher of the Year from the Classroom of the Future Foundation.

Richard is also the Lead Coach for Clairemonster Robotics, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team at Clairemont High School. In the 2018 season, the team entered playoffs and finished as semifinalists at the Aerospace Valley Regional Competition in Lancaster, CA. The team regularly participates in STEAM outreach activities in the Clairemont community and at local middle and elementary schools and is particularly focused on diversity and inclusiveness.

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)

Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. We call FIRST Robotics Competition the Ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.

From: What is FIRST Robotics Competition

At high schools that have FRC teams, this is typically an extra-curricular competitive activity that involves: engineering design, fabrication/assembly with metal & plastics, software development, marketing/promotion, graphic design/product development, website design, and fundraising. 

Richard’s goal as a FRC Mentor is to have the team members learn and apply skills that will be applicable in any professional environment. These include (but are not limited to): collaboration (teamwork), communication, problem-solving, initiative & self-direction, leadership & responsibility, productivity & accountability. Richard impresses upon new team members, and reminds current team members that there are three overall rules in Clairemonster Robotics:

Nobody is allowed to work alone - for any given task (plan, research, design, build), a team member must collaborate with another in order to learn, investigate (together), or teach.

All projects must be student-driven - team members must “own” any given task and be responsible for seeing it to completion. Some tasks/projects may be taken on as suggestions from adult mentors, but they can only be managed/coordinated by student team members.

Project roles, titles, and credit are entirely merit based - roles on the team are earned solely through recognition. A 9th grade student in their first season has the same eligibility to lead a design project as a 12th grade student that has been on the team for 4 years - the determining factor is the quantity and quality of work contributed.

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