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SPASH Nationally Certified for Project Lead The Way Program

By Portage County Business Council

SPASH announced that it has received national certification for the Project Lead The Wayprogram offered since 2009. Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education offers a rigorous curriculum that allows students to apply what they are learning in math and science class to real-life engineering and technology projects.

A National Business Roundtable report states that to remain competitive in the global marketplace, America needs to graduate 400,000 science, engineering, mathematics and technical four year degrees annually, yet we are currently graduating only 265,000.  The US has experienced a shortage of engineers since the 80’s and that shortage has continued to grow. PLTW has been developed to address this shortage. PLTW is providing students with a foundation and proven path to college and career success in these areas.

PLTW started in 1998 in upstate NY with just 12 schools. Two years ago there were over 2,000 schools and this year there are over 4,000 schools teaching PLTW.

The primary purposes of the certification program are to recognize schools that have successfully demonstrated a commitment to the quality national standards of the Pathway To Engineering program and to provide an opportunity for students to apply for college credit at PLTW affiliate Universities for selected PLTW courses.  PLTW has over 35 affiliate college and university partners that offer students credit for completing certain PLTW courses in high school, including Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). 

In 2009, SPASH offered the very first class, Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) and this year they added Principles of Engineering (POE). 2010 also brought opportunities to Junior High Students in Stevens Point. Gate Way to Technology (GTT) is offered to 8th grade students at both Ben Franklin and P.J. Jacobs Junior High Schools. The plan for next year is to add Digital Electronics (DE) and Biotech Engineering (BE) at SPASH and offer IED as an elective at the 9th grade level at both Ben Franklin and P.J. Jacobs.

Additional highlights from the program include:

  • 50 out of 54 students in IED qualified for MSOE transcripted credit
  • MSOE training for 5 PLTW teachers, 4 GTT and 1 POE
  • Receiving a Kern Grant for $65,000.
  • Remodeling and expansion of PLTW CADD lab

Mike Devine, principal of SPASH said, “We’ve seen how the PLTW program draws more students to engineering and technology courses and gets them thinking about college and their career. We are extremely proud to be PLTW certified and ecstatic that our students can begin receiving college credits for certain PLTW classes.”

Will Olson, CTE Coordinator, and a team composed of teachers, staff, students, and members of the community completed a self-assessment of the school’s implementation of the Pathway to Engineering™ program that culminated in a site visit by a national PLTW certification specialist.  The certification team met with teachers, administration, counselors, students, community representatives and reviewed student work.

“SPASH has demonstrated its commitment to the quality standards of PLTW’s Pathway to Engineering program and the real winners are [school] students,” said John Lock, President and CEO of PLTW.  “Students are benefiting from an innovative curriculum that encourages creativity and critical thinking and on top of that, they can earn college credit for some of these courses.  We congratulate the entire SPASH community and look forward to many more years of working together to prepare SPASH students to become the most innovative and productive in the world.”

Todd Vanderloop, a PLTW and SPASH teacher added, “The beauty of PLTW courses is that our kids get to experience how a formula they learned in math applies to a real project.  In class, there are no lectures – kids are building, developing and creating.  That is the kind of hands-on experience that will engage more students in fields that they might otherwise never consider.”

For more information on the PLTW program at SPASH contact Will Olson,   WI PLTW website     National PLTW website