PLTW Debuts Models

While some students take part in routine note taking and writing, Project Lead the Way (PLTW) students like Christopher Oa��Brien get to build sea perches and have the opportunity to test them out at the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

The PLTW program, headed by engineering teacher Gale Wolf, aims to increase the quantity and quality of engineers graduating from public schools. The courses include Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), Principles of Engineering (POE), Aerospace, Digital Electronics (DE) and Engineering Design and Development (EDD).

Oa��Brien is in the final course in the PLTW program, EDD. “I started the program in middle school and I just stuck with it. Although it can be hard, it has been really fun,” Oa��Brien said.

In EDD, the students get into groups of three and invent or innovate something that will solve a problem people have. Oa��Brien’s group decided to come up with a way to help people tape their lacrosse sticks, hockey sticks or baseball bats.

Many of the things students learn in this program are at the college level. Many colleges such as UMBC and Penn-State accept these credits. “It gives them exposure to engineering concepts and coursework,” Wolf said.

PLTW recently received a grant from Lockheed Martin to go towards stem initiatives, field trips, speakers and other resources. It received other grants in the past that went towards equipment only, so this year the grant is more flexible.

“…We have done a lot of fun projects. In POE we built bridges out of popsicle sticks to create a design that would hold a lot of weight,” Oa��Brien said. “The hands-on projects help to make the learning more interesting.”

The POE classes are currently learning about mechanical engineering, energy sources and thermo dynamics dealing with insulation materials. In addition, the Aerospace class recently finished making gliders and is beginning to work with GPS systems. . In DE, the students got to use a breadboard to practice wiring a circuit.

Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said, “Students learn problem solving skills, and besides engineering, there’s life skills as well.”