Student-Designed Theory Lab

Posted on Categories Student Engagement

At a Glance

Under direction from their instructor, carpentry students at Franklin County Career and Technology Center helped design and build an innovative theory room that supports an engaging learning environment.


Mr. Todd Swan, Carpentry Instructor at Franklin County Career and Technology Center (FCCTC) wanted to create a higher-end, college-style theory room for his students. In the traditional theory room setting, students are seated at tables in straight rows facing forward while the teacher is “standing above” them. Mr. Swan wanted to change this design to better engage students and to create a high tech theory lab that would attract potential students.

Origin / Implementation

Mr. Swan believed that students would benefit from a redesigned theory room that fostered higher-order thinking lessons and greater student engagement. He wanted to create a theory room in which students could take greater control over their learning. He decided to involve his students in the redesign process and provide them with a meaningful learning experience.

To kick off the project, Mr. Swan engaged his students in a discussion and brainstorming session to help answer the question, “What would the ultimate theory room look like, and can we build it?” After organizing their ideas, the students began to design and build a multi-level, semi-circular theory room in the existing space. During the design/build process, the students (under the teacher’s direction) also built custom designed lab tables that serve as desks and charging stations for laptops and tablets. Plexiglas tops were installed on the desks with LED lights underneath that provide a lighted surface for students to write on using dry erase markers. On this Plexiglas surface, students can take notes, write, do math calculations, design projects, and share ideas with others. If they want to capture what they have written, they simply take a picture using their laptop or tablet.

Results / Impact

Mr. Swan reports several positive outcomes from designing and building the new theory room. He notes that the room better serves his students and is a more user-friendly educational environment. Students now have an unobstructed view of the Whiteboard, TV, and demonstration area. They also have a secure, dust-free area to charge their laptops and tablets.

Since redesigning the theory room, enrollment numbers increased from 13 students per semester to 20 students, which is full enrollment.


Franklin County Career & Technology Center
Todd Swan, Carpentry Instructor