No Parking

Learning Heroes
3 min readJun 7, 2022

By David Park, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Communications

“Park it, Park!”

I can still hear my 7th grade algebra teacher’s gravelly voice telling me to sit down at my desk as he began to put a flurry of confusing numbers, variables, and equations on the chalkboard.

For the next hour I sat — as still as possible for a 13-year-old just before lunch — wishing I could get out of my seat, ask questions, engage in conversations, perhaps work with my classmates on a project.

Fast forward a few years (okay, decades). It’s an unusually hot afternoon at Chattanooga State Community College, and I’m attending an event that is part of Remake Learning Days Across America, an innovative Learning Heroes’ partner that organizes regional festivals for kids of all ages to “wonder, explore, and learn together.”

From the moment I step in the “classroom” — which happens to be the nation’s first K-14 digital “Fab Lab” — I can feel the energy.

Groups of kids from Chattanooga’s STEM School are collaborating on design projects, checking in on peers, showing off prototypes, asking questions of each other, and having fun. Meanwhile, Kristin Burrus, Innovation Program Manager at STEM School, gets a serious workout going from group to group, guiding the creative process.

Kristin Burrus, Innovation Program Manager at the Global Center for Digital Innovation
Josh Brissett shows off his auto-regulated greenhouse

The STEM School Design Challenges, one of several Remake Learning events hosted by Chattanooga’s Public Education Foundation, takes full advantage of the 15,000 square foot Fab Lab space. Some kids work at computer stations (where Isaac showed me his “coffin coaster” design — a cross between coffins and roller coasters, two of my least favorite things). Other kids work in imagination spaces where ideas are conceived, tested, and brought to life.

Ben and his team worked on the toy hacking challenge and showed off an electronic toy bird (think cross between a dodo bird and pink flamingo) that the team altered so it is accessible for kids with motor skills challenges. Josh, Molly, and Aaliyah created temperature-controlled greenhouses complete with retractable roofs. And Harrison gave me a tour of his prototype for national park ranger living quarters — his entry into the Technology Student Association competition.

Aaliyah Brewer and Molly Doss tackle the auto-regulated greenhouse challenge
Ben Rodriquez-Cruz takes part in toy hacking for adaptation challenge
Harrison Gersch with his submission for architectural design for Technology Student Association

STEM School, Chattanooga State, and the Public Education Foundation are illustrating what it means to Remake Learning — to collaborate, question possibilities, explore ideas, and most of all, to wonder.

As I leave the event, I can’t help but think that while you may not be able to access a 15,000 square foot Fab Lab, learning can happen anywhere — from public parks to museums, libraries, and even the grocery store. Learning can happen all the time, not just during the school day. And learning happens in many different ways.

We’ve come so far in our understanding of how learning happens, so let’s not “park it”. Instead, as we end this difficult school year and head into summer, let’s encourage every child to stand up, move around, and reach out. Together we can rethink instruction, remix summer, and remake learning.

Before school ends, be sure to connect with your child’s teacher to make a plan on which academic skills and life skills your child might want to work on this summer. Visit for more resources on summer learning.



Learning Heroes

Learning Heroes serves to inform and equip parents to be advocates for their children and best support their academic, social, and emotional development.