The mission of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is to “Prepare Students for the Global Economy.” Their STEM based programs can be found in more than 5,000 elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. The intensive teacher professional development program is a key differentiator between PLTW and other STEM based programs.
FGCU was selected as a Project Lead the Way Affiliate University in 2014.
For more informtaion, please visit the PLTW Website at: www.pltw.org
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(Photos by James Greco)
Summer Workshops for Teachers held from July 6 through July 24 were a HUGE success!
See below story by Andrew Sterwald (FGCU):
Teachers Get Intensive STEM Training at FGCU
By training educators how to teach STEM subjects better, FGCU and Project Lead the Way help ensure that more students develop skills in science, technology, engineering and math -- and increase the likelihood those students will pursue degrees and careers in these fast-growing fields.
Florida Gulf Coast University was selected as a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) affiliate in 2014, and for the second time served as a host site this summer for intensive core training for dozens of teachers from Florida and around the country. About 50 middle and high school teachers participated in each week of the nearly three-week program, delving into subjects such as digital electronics, program coding, engineering principles and design, automation and robotics and forensic science.
One of the main goals is to empower teachers to engage students better with hands-on learning experiences that teach critical thinking and problem-solving and inspire more interest in STEM.
“We’re all really excited about what we can share with kids,” said Katie Sullivan, an eighth-grade math teacher in Collier County, as she took a break from programming and connecting components to create an automated engine starter. “We’re excited to help kids learn about the opportunities out there for them. We’re trying to bring the curriculum to them in eighth grade.”
In another lab in Holmes Hall, high school teachers Christina Smith of Panama City and Taylor Deutsch of Miami were building what looked like an Erector Set project but was actually an automated material sorter that used a light sensor to identify different marbles.
“We’re doing a lot of different projects,” Deutsch said. “We both have a math background. I majored in math and computer science in college, but I don’t have much experience in engineering.”
To make their task even more challenging, they were paired remotely with team members at PLTW training sites in Oregon and Tennessee. The teachers collaborated through Skype, e-mail and Dropbox, according to PLTW Master Teacher Aurelien Mansier, who came to FGCU from Orlando to lead workshops.
“It teaches teamwork, scheduling, working with people in different locations,” he said. “It’s very comprehensive and intensive.”
Established in 1997, Project Lead the Way is a nonprofit organization that brings curriculum and teacher development programs to more than 6,500 elementary, middle and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Besides helping students develop the analytical and innovation skills necessary to succeed in the global economy, which is a national priority, programs like PLTW aim to address the need for professionals in critical fields.
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that STEM jobs will grow 17 percent by 2018 —nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields. By 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs because there will not be enough qualified workers.
Historically, science and math have been taught in isolation from other subjects, according to PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram, who visited the FGCU training sessions in mid-July. But STEM skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration are applicable in many fields, he said.
“STEM skills can help grow the economy,” Bertram said. “They create a wide range of career options.”
Lisa Zidek, FGCU Assistant Professor of Engineering and PLTW Affiliate Director, said the core training will continue each summer and may expand after the Emergent Technologies Institute opens. Besides providing professional development for teachers and enhancing learning for students, PLTW provides valuable exposure for FGCU’s facilities and programs for science, technology, engineering and math.
“We hope they go back and tell their STEM students, ‘Hey, FGCU is a good place to go to college,’” Zidek said.