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Prince of Peace Christian School SmartLab® Rick Knotts, SmartLab® facilitator and science department chair, tells attendees about the SmartLab®. He joked he will need some new shirts before the end of the year-because the children tug on his shirt each day to enthusiastically show him what they have created or solved with their projects!


Reinforcing academics with real-world learning while building next-generational skills, the $500K SmartLab® is taking students from passive consumers of technology to active producers of technology 

On September 25, Prince of Peace Christian School (POPCS) in Carrollton dedicated its new $500,000 SmartLab® – a 2,400 square-foot learning environment where, up to four times a week, Grades 3-8 explore science, mathematics, engineering, technology, and media arts through applied technology and project-based learning.

City officials joined school leadership making remarks, followed by an opportunity for attendees to visit with kids working on six projects. Carrollton’s Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Frances Cruz praised the SmartLab® for providing real-world learning and next-generational skills as well as fostering ingenuity and creativity – building on the idea if the human mind can conceive it, the human mind can achieve it.

Engaging students of all abilities, the POPCS SmartLabopened as part of the administration’s efforts to remain forward-thinking in education. It offers over 400 STEM learning experiences in more than 60 content areas with 18 workstations as well as extension activities for advanced learners. POPCS is one of only two private schools in the DFW area to offer the program.

“Last fall when we discussed how we could leverage technology to engage students in a new way, little did we know how impactful the SmartLab® would be on our students,” said Chris Hahn, headmaster. “It enables our students to explore subjects through active creation instead of passive consumption of content.”

Some comments from students include:

“We’re learning in a fun way while working together,” said student Donya Saless, 9. “It’s inspiring to learn and work together,” said Ruby Wilson, 10. “The SmartLab® is a great environment for learning, technology, and teamwork,” said Josh Stilwell, 11. “It makes learning fun,” said Meghan Taylor, 10. “The SmartLab® is preparing us for jobs for the future that don’t exist today,” said Allie Stuart, 10. “In the SmartLab® you find out what you’re good at, and if you’re not good at something, you can be,” said Alyssa Buchanan, 10.

Developed by Creative Learning Systems in 1987, the SmartLab® concept provides turnkey STEM and digital media programs. It is designed specifically for individual schools and accommodates changing technology.

“The POPCS SmartLab® is one of the best in the nation,” said Todd Baringer, lower school principal. “This creative workspace is preparing our students to be 21st century learners for jobs that don’t even exist yet.”

“In the SmartLab®, students research solutions for open-ended projects they choose for themselves,” said Rick Knotts, SmartLab® facilitator and Science Department Chair. “They develop critical thinking skills, hone teamwork and collaboration, and are instilled with a persistent drive to solve problems. It’s teaching them that it’s OK to fail while developing new solutions – ensuring their resilience and career-readiness.”

Prince of Peace also added a professional digital media broadcast studio for middle and upper schools. The goal is to incorporate the studio into the SmartLab® for maximum use. 

“The POPCS SmartLab® will build the future leaders of this community and the future neighborhoods we live in,” added Cruz. “I can’t wait to see the world they imagine for us.”

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Prince of Peace Christian School and Early Learning Center (POPCS) is an award-winning, non-denominational private school that serves 750+ children, ages 6 weeks through Grade 12, encompassing a 27-acre campus with more than 180,000 square feet of facilities.  The campus includes Lower, Middle and Upper Schools, the Early Learning Center, and 12 acres of sports fields, playgrounds, and gymnasiums. The POPCS Eagle Stadium Complex features a multi-purpose synthetic turf stadium with grandstand seating, an eight-lane track, baseball/softball field, and tennis courts.  The school also features the POPCS SmartLab®, the Fine Arts building with a 500-seat theater, band and choir halls, art studio and gallery, and the Grandpa Pfeil Robotics Workshop. POPCS provides an exemplary education equipping students as disciples and leaders for service and success beyond the 21st century. POPCS is a Christian school that builds relationships with students and families, values diversity, encourages teamwork, and is committed to continuous improvement and reflection. There is no faith requirement to become a student at POPCS.  Prince of Peace Christian is one of the only private Christian schools in the DFW area that does not require a statement of faith from any student or their families. We are a Christ-centered school that believes in sharing God’s love in a challenging global and challenging world.  Prince of Peace Christian is located at 4004 Midway Road, (near North Dallas Tollway and Plano Parkway) Carrollton, TX 75007-6024. Call (972) 447-0532 or visit

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