LakelandHigh Schoolannounced this week that ithas received national certification for its Project Lead The Way(PLTW)program. PLTW, a non-profit organization and the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs, offers a rigorous curriculum that allows students to apply what they are learning in math and science class to real-life engineering and technology projects.
The PLTW certification program recognizes schools for successfully demonstrating a commitment to PLTW’s national standards and provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit when they complete select PLTW courses in high school and receive other college-level recognition at PLTW affiliate universities. PLTW has more than 40 affiliate college and university partners, including Ivy Tech in Ft. Wayne.
In order to remain competitive in the global marketplace, America needs to award 400,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) four-year degrees annually, according to a National Business Roundtable report put together by the Business-Higher Education Forum, Business Roundtable, Council on Competitiveness, Information Technology Association of America, Information Technology Industry Council, Minority Business RoundTable, National Association of Manufacturers, National Defense Industrial Association, Semiconductor Industry Association, Software & Information Industry Association, TechNet, Technology CEO Council, Telecommunications Industry Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Currently, the U.S. is graduating only 265,000. PLTW is providing students with the skills, foundation and proven path to college and career success in STEM areas to increase the number of STEM graduates.
“We’ve seen how the PLTW program draws more students to engineering and technology courses and gets them thinking about college and their careers,” Lakeland High School Principal Eva Merkel said. “We are extremely proud to be PLTW certified and ecstatic that our students are eligible for college-level recognition, which may include college credit for select PLTW courses, scholarships and admissions preference.”
As part of the certification process,Merkelanda team composed of teachers, staff, students, and members of the community submitted a self-assessment of the school’s implementation of the PLTW’s Pathway To Engineering (PTE) program. A site visit by a national PLTW certification team followed. PLTW’s certification team met with teachers, school administrators, counselors, students and members of the school’s advisory council. A PLTW school’s advisory council is comprised of teachers, counselors, administrators, post-secondary representatives, business and industry professionals, and other community members who actively support the PLTW program within a school.
“Lakeland High School should be congratulated for demonstrating its commitment to PLTW’s quality standards but the real winners are Lakeland’s students,” said PLTW CEO Vince Bertram. “Students benefit from PLTW’s innovative, project-based curriculum that encourages creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. We look forward to many more years of working together to prepare Lakeland students to become the most innovative and productive in the world.”
Teachers are a critical component of the success of the PLTW program. All teachers are required to complete an intensive two-week professional development course during the summer before they can teach a PLTW course. Students who enroll in PLTW courses also benefit from the organization’s strong university and industry relationships that allow students to begin working toward their college degrees and gain valuable experience through internships and through their association with local engineers and technology professionals who serve as mentors, provide in-classroom visits and tours of their facilities.
“The beauty of PLTW courses is that our kids have the opportunity to apply math and science to real-world projects, including robotics,” added Thom Taylor, engineering teacher at LHS. “Rather than sit passively by and listen to a lecture – kids are building, developing and creating. It’s the kind of hands-on experience that will engage more students in science, technology, engineering and math.”