Project Lead The Way (PLTW) launched in 1997 with the intent of increasing students interests in science, math and technology, and helping to prepare students for the global economy. PLTW is an interactive, hands-on, project-based curriculum tied to national standards that emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving. This fall the Nevada Middle School is introducing two new PLTW foundational courses as exploratory classes – Gateway To Technology or GTT in eighth and seventh grades. The two classes will be the foundation for a series of high school classes in the Pathway to Engineering strand of PLTW. GTT is designed to spark interest in science, math and technology.
Last April, the middle school received a State of Iowa Scale Up Grant to help implement PLTW Gateway To Technology. The grant provided a rigorous, two-week summer training and curriculum development for Mr. Baethke and start up materials, including five VEX Robotic kits, for the two courses.
Greg Baethke is teaching both introductory GTT classes this year. The high school will be adding Principles of Engineering and Digital Electronics in the next two years. In addition, high school students will have the opportunity to earn college credit with thr PLTW course series.
At the middle school level, in design and modeling, students will document their ideas in an engineering notebook as they use 3D modeling software to create a product or solve a problem. In automation and robotics, students learn about mechanical systems to design and program a robot to solve a problem. In both classes students build their knowledge using math, science and technology. The knowledge and experiences students gain from GTT will create a strong foundation for further learning in high school and beyond.
(Chris Schmidt is principal of Nevada Middle School.)