Project Lead The Way

STEM in District 30

Student doing an experiment

Today’s students need to develop knowledge and skills that allow them to thrive, no matter their chosen life and career paths. They need to become comfortable taking intellectual risks, adept at collaboration, confident in the face of challenges, and skilled at devising solutions  — these are essential skills.

Middle school is the perfect time for students to explore and learn that there is more than one way to reach a solution, to become designers and inventors, and to work together to create new things and develop new knowledge.

District 30 emplooys a hands-on, project-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum that emphasizes critical and creative thinking.

In 2016, District 30 partnered with Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a national organization, committed to working with schools in the implementation of innovative and rigorous science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.  A rigorous STEM program will also expose young people to the practice of “design thinking”.  This approach to creative thought is centered on continual improvement and learning from mistakes. Failure is looked upon as a natural step towards success, and not an end to an idea.  This is a significant step in helping our students to become “innovation ready”.

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 The Project Lead The Way curriculum for middle school students challenges, inspires, and encourages them to delve deeper into subject areas. Students get rigorous and relevant experiences through activity-, project-, and problem-based learning. Students are able to use industry-leading technology to solve problems, while gaining skills in communication, collaboration, critical-thinking, and creativity.

PLTW is divided into independent, quarter-length units. The program is designed to be taught in conjunction with our rigorous academic curriculum.  PLTW courses are aligned with national standards in Math and ELA, Next Generation Science Standards, and CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards. Courses and units are designed to complement and enrich the existing math and science courses.

The Project Lead The Way Curriculum

Design and Modeling (Sixth Grade): Students apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They work in teams to design a playground and furniture, capturing research and ideas in their engineering notebooks. Using Autodesk® design software, students create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their innovative solutions.

Robotics: Students trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students use the VEX Robotics® platform to design, build, and program real-world objects, such as traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms.