11/28/2013 1:03:00 PM Project Lead the Way in grades 7 & 8
Chisago Lakes Area Schools has implemented Project Lead the Way. Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is the leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education programs used in middle and high schools across the U.S. Students in PLTW programs create, design, build, discover, collaborate and solve problems while applying what they learn in math and science. The hands-on, project based engineering courses will engage students on multiple levels, expose them to areas of study that they typically do not pursue and provide them with a foundation and proven path to success. Students in seventh and eighth grade are required to take one quarter of Design and Modeling this year.
Next year eighth grade students will be required to take Automation and Robotics for one quarter and the seventh graders will receive Design and Modeling. Both the teacher and the students are enjoying the new course and its rigorous components. Instructor Ed Wakefield stated, “It is a lot of fun to see a light come on when kids apply the math and science they have learned. They see a practical use for what they have learned in other classes.” Eighth grade student Jade Nelson said, “This class is amazing. It is my favorite.” Students especially like the hands-on approach to learning and designing 3D models. Students Ben Koesters and Karter Mohs are looking forward to the next unit, in which they will be designing, building, and then racing CO2 cars. At the high school, students will have the opportunity to select Introduction to Engineering Design and/or Principles of Engineering. One student in Introduction to Engineering Design, Alysse Lensing, stated that she liked that all course materials are available online so students can access notes, activities, and projects from home or anywhere. Another student said the class is “challenging but fun.”
A freshmen student who is interested in exploring engineering as a career choice said that it was nice to have early exposure to engineering so that he can see if it will be an option for him. Instructor Mike Sandell said, “The coursework is quite challenging. While similar to the two courses that were replaced by the IED (Intro to Engineering) course, it asks the students to bring their Science and Math knowledge to practical use. It is a true integrated STEM Class. The students are also required to keep an ‘Engineering notebook,’ following a specific format for recording information related to their project work. This becomes their record of all their design work,” Sandell said. Principles of Engineering will be offered second semester and will introduce students to some of the material they could encounter should they choose to follow an engineering path for their profession. The course uses mathematics to solve engineering type problems. Students will be doing many hands on activities to build, adjust, modify and program machines, structures and robots.
Creativity and problem solving are key components to the course. Instructor Jeff Saueressig stated, “I think students will find this course to be very challenging yet enjoyable. For the students to see their idea go from conception to final product will be a valuable experience.” PLTW students are five to 10 times more likely to pursue engineering and technology classes in college, have higher GPA as first-year college students, and outscore peers in the same field of study by 10 points in reading, 11 points in math, and 10 points in science. Chisago Lakes Area Schools will explore adding more PLTW courses in the upcoming years.