Milwaukee Public Schools is home to the nation’s largest concentration of students involved in Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a rigorous, nationally-recognized program that utilizes hands-on learning to connect students to science, technology, math and engineering. Approximately 5,800 middle- and high-school-age students take part in Project Lead the Way’s engineering programs in more than 30 MPS schools. Nearly half of the students participating in those PTLW programs in MPS are female and roughly 85% are students of color. Even more MPS students participate in Project Lead the Way biomedical engineering programs. Students participating in PTLW in MPS boast stronger academic performance.
For America to remain economically competitive, our next generation of leaders — the students of today — must develop the critical-reasoning and problem-solving skills that will help make them the most productive in the world. The PLTW curriculum is founded in the fundamental problem-solving and critical-thinking skills taught in traditional career and technical education (CTE), but at the same time integrates national academic and technical learning standards and STEM principles, creating what U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls one of the “great models of the new CTE succeeding all across the country.”
Twenty-two MPS schools offer the project’s middle school Gateway to Technology (GTT) engineering program, which is designed to challenge and engage the natural curiosity and imagination of middle school students. They envision, design and test their ideas with the same advanced modeling software used by companies like Lockheed Martin, Intel and Sprint. They study mechanical and computer control systems; think robotics and animation. Students also explore the importance of energy, including innovative ways to reduce, conserve and produce it using solar, thermal and wind power. The knowledge that students gain and the skills they build from GTT create a strong foundation for further STEM learning in high school and beyond.
Nine MPS schools offer Project Lead the Way’s high school Path to Engineering (PTE) program. PTE is a sequence of courses, which follows a proven hands-on, real-world problem-solving approach to learning. Throughout PTE, students learn and apply the design process, acquire strong teamwork and communication proficiency and develop organizational, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills. They discover the answers to questions like how are things made and what processes go into creating products? Students use the same industry-leading 3D design software used by companies like Intel, Lockheed Martin and Pixar. They explore aerodynamics, astronautics and space life sciences. Hello, NASA. Students apply biological and engineering concepts related to biomechanics – think robotics. They design, test and actually construct circuits and devices such as smart phones and tablets and work collaboratively on a culminating capstone project. It’s STEM education and it’s at the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy.
Six MPS schools offer PTLW’s high school Biomedical Sciences (BMS) program. BMS is a sequence of courses, all aligned with appropriate national learning standards, which follows a proven hands-on, real-world problem-solving approach to learning. Students explore the concepts of human medicine and are introduced to topics such as physiology, genetics, microbiology and public health. Through activities, like dissecting a heart, students examine the processes, structures and interactions of the human body – often playing the role of biomedical professionals. They also explore the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, working collaboratively to investigate and design innovative solutions to the health challenges of the 21st century such as fighting cancer with nanotechnology.