WPI is the Massachusetts Affiliate University for Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. Each summer WPI offers PLTW core training to prepare educators to teach PLTW courses. WPI hosts an annual PLTW fall conference, assists with the implementation of the PLTW curricular programs, and provides ongoing support to PLTW schools in MA and other New England states.
Below is information on the Project Lead The Way curriculum, how to become a PLTW school, our annual conference, corporate support opportunities, and how WPI students can earn college credit. Other PLTW questions should be directed to Martha Cyr, Director of Strategic Growth: PLTW in the STEM Education Center at WPI.
What is PLTW?
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) creates an engaging environment and empowers students to develop in-demand knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an evolving world. Through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, K-12 students learn problem-solving strategies, critical and creative thinking, and how to communicate and collaborate through hands-on activities, projects, and problems reflective of real-world scenarios and careers.
The PLTW curriculum is offered in over 10,000 schools, including 125 in Massachusetts. PLTW curricular programs are aligned to national standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts.
To help you make a decision on PLTW's appropriateness for your district or school, be sure to thoroughly review PLTW's webpage that details the steps to starting a PLTW curricular program. You will find information on all the offerings including course descriptions, outlines, resumes, and standards alignment. Plus you can get information on the necessary investment, register your district or school, and access the PLTW Implementation Guide. If you have questions after reviewing the materials, contact Mary Laturnau, PLTW's Director of School Engagement for Massachusetts.
Please note: Although some MA high schools have chosen to run PLTW as a Chapter 74 curricular program, PLTW courses are considered part of the general education courses in a comprehensive high school. Most often PLTW high school courses are offered as electives.
Already a PLTW school?
WPI hosts PLTW core training each summer. Details for WPI's annual core training are typically finalized by April.
Massachusetts teachers should not go out-of-state for PLTW core training unless the course desired is not offered at WPI or the teacher has extenuating circumstances that make it impossible to attend WPI's core training.
By attending core training you will earn the certification required to teach the PLTW course in which you participate. This intensive professional development provides the following:
- Exposure to the curriculum and other PLTW teaching resources
- Practice learning the course-specific software and projects
- Opportunity to network with other PLTW teachers
- Option for middle and high school teachers to earn graduate credit for select courses
To attend PLTW core training you must complete the following process:
- Before registering for core training, your district must have returned their signed PLTW Agreement to PLTW headquarters, and you must be a registered PLTW teacher in your school's PLTW record. Once you receive an email from PLTW with access to your myPLTW account, you are ready to proceed to step 3.
- If you are unaware of having a myPLTW account, you should check with your PLTW Program or Site Coordinator (designated by your district) to confirm that you have been added as a PLTW teacher for your school. If you need help identifying these people, please contact the PLTW Solution Center at firstname.lastname@example.org (877-335-7589) M-F 7am-11pm EST.
- Ideally by the end of April, follow page two of these step-by-step instructions to register with PLTW for the core trainings you want to attend. Seats are limited, and first come, first served!
- Finally complete the required online prerequisites. This should be done on the laptop you will bring to Core Training at WPI (see the minimum computer specs for the appropriate PLTW program). This e-Learning experience can take 4 to 24 hours to complete depending on the course and your background. We highly recommend you complete it soon to get a better understanding of PLTW, your specific course, and the software the course will utilize.
This conference, held every October, is open to all K-12 schools and other interested parties. By participating, you will learn about developing a K-12 STEM pathway focused on engineering, computer science, and/or biomedical science. Administrators, teachers and students from successful PLTW schools will share their experiences and lessons learned. The agenda includes many options for each breakout session, so there are topics of interest to everyone, whether you've been involved with PLTW for a long time or this is the first you've heard of the curriculum.
Today’s high-tech companies realize the importance of providing students with not only a solid foundation in understanding and using technology, but also with the skills to apply that technology in solving problems. PLTW schools believe a rigorous curriculum challenges students to succeed and that hands-on, project-based courses lead to a methodical approach to solving open-ended problems.
There are many ways in which business and industry members may become involved with and support PLTW schools in Massachusetts. You can partner with WPI on our efforts, join a district's PLTW Partnership Team, host a school field trip, judge student projects or speak in the classroom, etc. Corporate gifts and/or equipment and material donations are also greatly appreciated by PLTW schools. To learn more about these opportunities, contact Martha Cyr to discuss your interest.
Project Lead The Way offers high school students who have passed minimum requirements the unique opportunity to obtain college credit for their PLTW courses!
Current WPI students who completed a PLTW engineering course in high school, received a minimum of a "B" in the course, and earned a stanine score of 6 or higher on the PLTW end-of-course exam are eligible for WPI undergraduate credit, free of charge. WPI course equivalents have already been identified for Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), Principles of Engineering (POE), Civil Engineering & Architecture (CEA), Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), and Digital Electronics (DE). As deemed appropriate, WPI also accepts PLTW transfer credits from other PLTW Affiliate Universities (RIT and others).
If you have questions about WPI's policy for PLTW credit or wish to apply for credit please contact Terry Adams.
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