UVU’s Creative Learning Studio Recognized For Innovation and Equality in STEM Education

Utah Valley University’s (UVU) Creative Learning Studio (CLS) gained national attention as a digital equity and transformation leader last month.


Utah Valley University’s (UVU) Creative Learning Studio (CLS) gained national attention as a digital equity and transformation leader last month. It was recognized by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and University Beacon Newsletter in the equity category.

Krista Ruggles, UVU associate professor of elementary education, STEM, co-created the School of Education’s (SOE) Creative Learning Studio. She and Suzy Cox, the current director of Innovative Learning for the Provo City School District, saw the need for equality in how STEM subjects are taught to students. She was excited to share the news in The Beacon Newsletter about how teaching future teachers in the studio is making a difference.

“We hope this will help other universities see the impact of creating innovative and engaging spaces that can be utilized for a variety of purposes,” Ruggles said.

CLS supports UVU students enrolled in elementary and secondary education programs and teaches future educators how to integrate technology across content areas using robotics and computer science.

“The CLS houses a ‘maker space’ where our undergraduate education majors learn how to teach and learn in a creative and dynamic environment,” Ruggles said. “In the summer, we run two engineering design camps for elementary students. We also have a lending library where students, faculty, and K-12 teachers can check out a variety of robotics and STEM materials.”

While STEM careers are in high demand, the mission of CLS training goes beyond meeting those needs.

“I was introduced to educational technology when I was enrolled in my teacher education program in the mid-1990s,” Ruggles said. “After integrating technology for 13 years in elementary classrooms, I have seen the impact it can have on student learning, motivation, and engagement.”

The CLS website acknowledges that not all Utah students have access to the same STEM resources. “Every child deserves the opportunity to pursue education and a career in STEM fields, and that is not the current reality,” the website states.

Ruggles said CLS is leveling the playing field with resources, advice, and professional development opportunities for school districts across the state. CLS’s success comes from several UVU grants and generous donations from the Utah industry, and a state STEM Action Center grant will enable continued growth in 2023. With these additional resources, CLS will hire four UVU student AmeriCorps members to embark on new projects.

“We hope to continue to expand our reach and include more faculty in innovative projects that provide equitable experiences for our UVU students and K-12 partners,” Ruggles said.

The Beacon Newsletter quotes Nick Varney, a UVU School of Education alumnus, who said, “The Creative Learning Studio is one of the most forward-thinking education design programs in the state of Utah. Students who receive training from the CLS are empowered to create transformative 21st-century learning experiences for their future students.”

Varney is one of more than 1,500 UVU education majors who have already been impacted by the Creative Learning Studio, which is now inspiring educators nationwide.