Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a nationwide program which aims to give high school students problem solving and creative thinking skills as they are exposed to the ever growing STEM field. The curriculum is developed by high school teachers, university professors, school administrators, and STEM professionals. It is further augmented by STEM professionals offering mentorships and experience in the workplace. The learning is primarily hands on and includes various courses in computer science, biomedical science, and engineering. Students can also gain undergraduate college credits for PLTW classes. Missouri S&T (S&T) proudly contributes to Project Lead the Ways mission as the Training Partner in Kansas City, Missouri. David Hosick - the Missouri S&T senior program director for PLTW - attests that “Missouri S&T’s model of learning through doing is very similar to the PLTW model of successfully engaging students in relevant ways. We are excited to partner with PLTW to provide teachers with an exceptional learning experience.” S&T has partnered with PLTW since its beginnings in 1997. Missouri S&T is one of only 17 PLTW training partners throughout the entire United States.
Well trained teachers are vital to the success of Project Lead the Way as it offers science and pre-engineering coursework which, when implemented to the fullest, will provide the future with innovative scientists and engineers. The commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Dr. Margie Vandeven, recognizes this fact as she states “Project-based learning is a vital component in developing critical and creative thinking. Professional development offered through PLTW and Missouri S&T will not only help teachers across our state build their own skills, but will also translate well into classroom instruction to help students succeed in school and in life.” Missouri S&T works to train preschool through high school level teachers to begin enhanced learning at the earliest stages. Missouri S&T will conduct training in Lee’s Summit, Missouri which will act as their training hub, for travel convenience and availability of industrial experience amenities, for the next three years. These trainings will allow teachers to obtain graduate course credits at Missouri S&T. The president and chief executive officer of Project Lead the Way, Dr. Vince Bertram states that “We are proud to partner with Missouri S&T to empower teachers to lead students in real-world career learning. Together, we’re helping teachers make connections between their classroom and careers so they can share that understanding with students as they build transportable skills that will prepare them to thrive in our evolving world.”
Over the last two decades, Project Lead the Way has seen huge growth. The 2019-2020 academic year will see over 880 PLTW programs in Missouri alone. Over 600 Missouri schools and fifty-two Missouri school districts will have at least one PLTW program offered. All fifty states and the District of Columbia already have PLTW programs in place with a total of nearly 12,000 elementary through high schools offering PLTW programs in total.