Meanwhile, I'm wondering whether anyone has experience with Project Lead the Way, which my district will be purchasing for school year 2007-2008 and beyond. The school board has sent out an email describing Project Lead the Way "a multi-year engineering program."
Project Lead the Way's mission is to entice more minorities and women into engineering programs:
We will create dynamic partnerships with our nation's schools to prepare an increasing and more diverse group of students to be successful in science, engineering, and engineering technology.
The evaluation of Project Lead the Way (pdf file) devotes many pages to counting the number of black, Hispanic, and female students enrolled in Project Lead the Way classes, as compared to the number of Asian students. Proportional representation is the goal.
Structurally, Project Lead the Way is associated with vocational education, which appears to have morphed into technology education. My guess is that voc-ed, which has been under attack and in decline, is staging a comeback by re-branding itself technology education and "a new type of career and technical program." (pdf file)
The standard glowing account in Education week available here. (pdf file)
As part of a Cleveland High PLTW engineering class, students work in teams to build cardboard boats that they’ll race in the school’s swimming pool. But first they have to calculate how many cubic feet the boat should be, how fast it will sink, and other factors on their own; the only equation they’re given is that one cubic foot of cardboard will sustain 60 pounds. “They get frustrated,” Mr. Clariday said, “but they get to know the math.”
"the top 80%"
Mr. Lowndes, the Wheaton High principal, said “the most impressive thing” about the engineering program is what it does for average students. “It’s teaching them through a cohort how to be successful in school and why it’s important to take the rigorous courses,” he said.
As Lynne M. Gilli, the program manager of the Maryland Department of Education’s career and technical education instructional branch, put it: “We are not trying to recruit the best and brightest” for PLTW pre-engineering programs. “We’re trying to recruit the top 80 percent.”
Interesting that our administration believes a "pre-engineering" program aimed at "the top 80%" is appropriate for kids here.
21st century skills
All PLTW high school courses have several underlying content areas in common. As students progress through the sequence they will become proficient in:.
- working as a contributing member of a team
- leading a team
- using appropriate written and/or visual mediums to communicate with a wide variety of audiences
- public speaking
- listening to the needs and ideas of others
- understanding the potential impact their ideas and products may have on society
- problem solving
- managing time, resources and projects
- going beyond the classroom for answers
- data collection and analysis
- preparing for two-and four-year college programs
PLTW's curriculum makes math and science relevant for students. By engaging in hands-on, real-world projects, students understand how the skills they are learning in the classroom can be applied in everyday life. This approach is called activities-based learning, project-based learning, and problem-based learning or APPB-learning.
This photograph shows students enrolled in Project Lead the Way:
a) working as a contributing member of a team
b) listening to the needs and ideas of others
c) using appropriate written and/or visual mediums to communicate with a wide variety of audiences
d) following simple directions projected on their computer screens
And all of this costs no more than $100K!
calculating the costs of PTLW
2008 cost estimates (pdf file)
software program policy