More than 100 high school educators throughout New England are attending the Project Lead The Way Conference today at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to participate in educational workshops and learn more about the program's nationally acclaimed pre-engineering curriculum.
Project Lead The Way promotes math, science and technology skills for students in middle- and high schools using engineering problem solving as a framework. The conference is geared to guidance counselors, school administrators, and teachers. Support for the program comes in part from the Boston-based Linde Family Foundation.
WPI, which serves as the Massachusetts affiliate university for Project Lead The Way, is co-sponsoring the conference with the University of New Haven, NHTI Concord's Community College in New Hampshire, and Project Lead The Way. It will be the only one for this academic year in New England.
The annual conference is designed to keep school counselors, administrators, and teachers updated on Project Lead The Way activities, and will include a professional development workshop for existing PLTW teachers. The conference also serves as an opportunity for personnel from interested schools to become better acquainted with the project-based program.
"Project Lead The Way's programs emphasize critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving—the same elements at the heart of WPI's project-based curriculum," said Martha Cyr, executive director of the STEM Education Center at WPI and a nationally recognized authority on K-12 educational outreach.
Project Lead The Way has been implemented in more than 4,700 schools since 1997 to address the national shortage of engineers. WPI is one of 41 affiliate universities for PLTW's Engineering Program. WPI's initiatives include a two-week annual Summer Training Institute for teachers before they teach any of the PLTW courses, certifying PLTW high schools, hosting guidance counselor conferences, marketing the program to Massachusetts schools, and supporting the 36 Project Lead The Way schools in the Commonwealth.
In 2011, after a rigorous review process, Project Lead The Way was one of seven statewide STEM initiatives to receive an endorsement as part of the Massachusetts Statewide STEM Education, Jobs, and Workforce Initiative. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, chair of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, announced the state's support for Project Lead The Way as an initiative that will increase the number of students who are both prepared for and interested in STEM-related careers.
"Our work with Project Lead The Way is a natural extension of WPI's long tradition of cutting-edge engineering education," Cyr said.