A school district in New Mexico has launched elective courses known as SMARTLabs, in which middle-school students engage in self-paced learning in science, technology, engineering and math as well as hands-on instruction. Among other things, students work with technology, machines and broadcast equipment, and they produce a physical product by the end of the course. "It's a real motivator for kids to come to school and do well," said principal Jay Brady.

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