Project Lead the Way RecapPosted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 by Les Hamilton
In Community, Culture, tagged in Tags: pltw, project lead the way, stem
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a nationally certified, pre-engineering program for high school students. In 2007, Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) implemented PLTW as the district engineering signature program at Shawnee Mission South High School. I have been involved as a mentor with the program since 2009.
PLTW is a pre-engineering curriculum, which introduces students to the scope, rigor, and discipline of engineering prior to entering college. Through it, students learn to work in teams to solve real-world problems. Training includes state-of-the-art computer software and technology.
PLTW partners with representatives from higher education, engineering firms, and the community. Partners support the PLTW curriculum, serve as mentors to student teams, and speak to students about engineering and technology. I participated as a mentor for the Engineering Design and Development (EDD) course, served as a review panelist for the Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA) class presentation, and am judging the regional PLTW-KC EDD this year.
In the CEA class, students apply knowledge of project planning, site planning, building design, project documentation, and project presentation. The main focus is a long-term project involving the development of a local project site. This year’s project represents designs for the approximate 20 acres of vacant land east of the high school. Students use 3D design software to design and document solutions. Nine groups of two students, who took this course, presented their designs to a group of industry panelists, using power point with written details.
EDD is the capstone course for the PLTW pre-engineering pathway at SMSD. In it, students worked in teams to research, design, and construct a solution to an engineering problem of their choice. The teams applied principles developed in preceding PLTW courses and were guided by community mentors, like myself. They brainstormed possibilities, researched current patents and regulations, constructed a working model, tested the model in real-life situations or simulations, and documented their designs. The projects are reviewed and graded as part of the classroom work.
The completed, graded projects were also submitted to the regional KC STEM Alliance, PLTW-KC Engineering Design Competition and the Biomedical Research and Design Competition. This competition includes participants from various PLTW programs throughout the metropolitan area. Students built a portfolio around their design project and submitted it online. The portfolios were reviewed electronically by practicing professionals (judges) and graded against a rubric. The PLTW High School Senior Showcase presents all of the submitted projects for public review. The teams competed in several categories, and those with the three highest scores received scholarship prizes, while those in the top ten got letters of recommendation. Teams also had the opportunity to compete for Innovator Awards during the event, which recognized projects for innovativeness and market potential.