Hello all, I am looking to start connecting with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Teachers throughout the country to see how you are moving forward with the initiative.

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I teach in a middle school, and my curriculum is being changed to Project Lead The Way's middle school program, called Gateway To Technology. Essentially a pre-engineering curriculum. This is quite the journey for this band director by formal training turned computer geek the past ten years. If someone would have told me I would be teaching engineering (albeit MS level) back in the late 80s, I'd have laughed my head off.

I have a two week, about 100 clock hour training this summer as my indoctrination by fire into this new teaching venture.
Hey Jeff, I heard about PLTW. Why is it so popular? Do you think it is worth bringing into the school district? Is it expensive? What are the benefits?
The curriculum itself, once you agree to PLTW's stipulations for having the program, is free. The cost comes into play with properly outfitting your PLTW classrooms with a 1:1 ratio of peppy enough computers to run the primary tool (Autodesk Inventor) and the materials for all the hands-on elements, of which there are many. In my situation, its going to be very expensive because of the need to purchase new computers, all the project stuff, AND renovate the space that will house the program. All told for our two teacher, two classroom setup it will be about $100,000, including the $5000 or so that the summer training and stipends will cost. If a school had a setup where new computers weren't needed and the space didn't need any renovation, then the cost would be only with the project equipment and consumables, probably between $10,000-15,000 in the startup year, due primarily to the need to buy six fischerteknic robotics kits at about $1200 each.

As to your questions of whether or not it is worth it and what are the benefits, I would say yes it is worth it, but with some reservation until I've actually taught it for a year. What I've seen in visits to other program sites is impressive, but it is certainly NOT for every student. The curriculum is fast paced and students need to be quite strong in math and LA to succeed. In our case, we are replacing our entire current curriculum (Synergistics Modules) with PLTW-GTT, which, due to those math and LA prerequisites, will shut a certain percentage of our students out completely. Now mind you this is totally separate from the computer studies courses, which are required for all our students. Technology in our sense is the broader definition as in the STEM philosophy. As for worthiness, I know we need to be developing more homegrown engineers, as right now there is a shortage of US kids going into engineering, just as we have a current shortage going into computer science.

I probably should get a blog going so I can document my experiences as we launch into this!



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