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‘Project Lead The Way’ helps students interested in STEM fields

Edward Graf teaching engineering.

Edward Graf teaching engineering.

Mattithias Levell

Mattithias Levell

Edward Graf teaching engineering.

Mattithias Levell

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Galileo, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Larry Page, Steve Jobs–Some of the most famous and important people in history.

They also have another thing in common: They were all problem solvers.

Project Lead The Way is a high school engineering program that is designed to produce more problem solvers and offers five courses in a sequence.

This program offers Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics, Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Engineering Design and Development.

PLTW “is for anybody,” engineering teacher Edward Graf said. The program is for those interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) classes and engineering majors/careers. “Recently, you’re seeing all of [the STEM subjects] being combined in one umbrella,” Graf said. PLTW “can [also] expose you to engineering.”

“But most importantly, engineering is about problem-solving, and that’s a skill that applies to anybody… It’s not just a STEM skill,” Graf added. PLTW is also for “anybody that prefers hands-on, project-based learning.” The two tangible benefits are AP recognition and some college credit opportunities.

The only cost of PLTW is the opportunity cost that comes with any program. “One of the five [PLTW] classes can count as your tech credit, but the other four are basically preventing you from taking something else,” Graf said. Some students have difficulty deciding “whether they want to do the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program or engineering because it’s pretty difficult to do both…That’s why it’s nice that we have the IB career program that allows students to get a taste of both.”

To start PLTW, you just need to register for the classes. Graf suggests “starting as soon as possible,” considering there are five classes to get through. The only prerequisite is Algebra 1. Graf is ”happy to talk to kids if they have an interest and [he] can share what their experiences might be like, but most kids express an interest and register for [IED] and if [they] retain that interest, they continue to register for courses.”

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