What is Project Lead the Way?   

Alexa Ramsey, Staff

Project Lead the Way is a fairly new program to East Noble.  The initiative is oriented around STEM subjects and is known for its engaging, hands-on learning environment.  We wanted to find out more, so the Knightly Scroll conducted interviews with Mr. Shawn Kimmel and two students involved with Project Lead the Way.  We asked them about what the classes are like, what they prepare you for, and why PLTW is different from your other science classes.   

We started with Kimmel, teacher of three PLTW courses. 

Can you start us off by telling us about Project Lead the Way?  What do you do?

Kimmel: “Project Lead the Way is a non-profit organization that provides STEM courses and development for elementary, middle and high school students. Instead of providing students with reading and tests, the students are given real-world challenges to overcome.”    

Who is eligible for these classes?

Kimmel: “Any boy or girl who is interested in math, science and most importantly using their hands.  We offer three classes here at East Noble. The first class is Engineering essentials, the second class is Introduction to Engineering and the third class is Principles of Engineering.”

What kind of careers does these classes prepare you for?

Kimmel: “Honestly more than just Engineering.  We have PLTW students from East Noble who have gone on to study Mechanical Engineering, Computer Programming, Electrical Engineering, Drafting, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Aeronautical Engineering, Physics, Aviation, Biomedical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering etc…”

Why should people consider getting involved?    

Kimmel: “This is a class where you are not constantly in your seat.  We work a lot as groups on projects. These classes are dual credit. Mostly however is they are A LOT of fun. All the cool kids take them.”

 What do you hope to do with Project Lead the Way in the future?

Kimmel: “Because of our students’ progress as future engineers we have started a Robotics class.  While this is not a PLTW class, our students have enjoyed their PLTW courses so much that they have been craving something to extend their learning further.  So I would have no problem stating that our Robotics class is an unofficial extension of our PLTW courses.”  

Like Kimmel said, Project Lead the Way gives you real-world skills that encourages out-of-the-box problem solving.  We wanted some student perspective, so we interviewed two students involved in these classes, Seth Johnson and Ethan Rayle.  They told us a little of some other PLTW classes centered around other subjects, like biology and cyber security.     

What do you think of Project Lead the Way? 

Johnson- “I enjoy the labs that we do.  I’m interested in engineering, and it gives me more aspects of that to learn.”      

Rayle- “But it’s nice how there are classes that don’t just focus on engineering, though.  PLTW is spanning to other subjects, like cyber security, biology, and most other STEM subjects.”   

What kind of projects do you do?

Johnson-“We get to build modes of transportation, cardboard boats, bridges, things like that.  That’s big in the engineering part. Also, in biomed, there’s one where you have to figure out the cause of death for someone.  You need to find out if the person was killed, or sick, or something else.”     

Rayle-“Everything he said, and in the cybersecurity course we were given this virtual machine, and we had to find and remove a virus.  That was cool.”                  

What would you say to a student who is interested in one of these classes?

Johnson- “You should take it.  Plus, a lot of those classes are dual credit, which is good.  But people that take them really have to like math a lot.”   

Rayle- “Definitely take it if you can fit it in.  But like he said, you need to like math and be genuinely interested in the subject.  It’s not really something you can just blow off.”          

Do you know what you want to do in the future?    

Johnson-“I’m doing mechanical/aerospace engineering.”

Rayle-“Not really.  I’m still unsure.”   

That’s Project Lead the Way in a nutshell.  There are a lot of occupations revolving around STEM subjects, and those kinds of skills are in high demand.  PLTW classes provide you with hands-on labs and an engaging learning environment, so they’re different from a lot of other science classes.  If it sounds like something you would enjoy and benefit from, take one of the classes next year!