As part of a multi-year effort to expand STEM-based learning opportunities, Wilton High School will offer Project Lead the Way: Introduction to Engineering Design next school year, following the Board of Education’s unanimous approval of the course during its Feb. 25 meeting.

According to the course proposal, created by Wilton High School Assistant Principal Richard Sanzo, students will engage in “open-ended problem solving, learn and apply the engineering design process and use the same industry-leading technology and software as are used in the world’s top companies.”

The course will offer students the opportunity to learn about different engineering disciplines before beginning post-secondary education or careers by investigating topics like:


  • Sustainability.

  • Mechatronics.

  • Forces.

  • Structures.

  • Aerodynamics.

  • Digital electronics.

  • Circuit design.

  • Manufacturing.

  • The environment.


According to the course proposal, the introductory class will not only help students develop problem-solving skills but also teach them how to apply engineering design processes as they work, from “sketching simple geometric shapes to applying a solid modeling computer software package.”

Project Lead the Way


Project Lead the Way is a nonprofit organization that provides K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in the global economy.

Introduction to Engineering is the first of two foundational courses that are part of the Project Lead the Way pathway — the other being Principles of Engineering.

During the introductory class, students learn about the engineering design process by “applying math, science and engineering standards to hands-on projects [and] a variety of problems using 3D modeling software,” according to the course proposal.

Serving as a “survey course in engineering,” Principles of Engineering allows students to explore a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, automation, and the strength of structures and materials.

After these two courses are completed, Project Lead the Way offers a variety of specialization courses, such as Civil Engineering and Architecture, Digital Electronics, and Aerospace Engineering, as well as a capstone course called Engineering Design and Development.

Wilton High School expects to implement Principles of Engineering in 2017-18 and select at least one of the specialization courses to offer in 2018-19, based on student interest.

Impact


According to the high school’s course proposal, the Project Lead the Way course will build upon the STEM learning experiences embedded in Middlebrook’s STRIDE program and iSTE Club. Project Lead the Way also offers a middle school program called Gateway and is piloting an elementary-level program called Launch.

As for its impact in the high school, the Project Lead the Way course will transcend the mathematics, science and applied arts departments and “complement and deepen the learning of STEM skills” found in their classes, according to the proposal. Project Lead the Way students must maintain enrollment in the grade-appropriate math and science courses.

The high school anticipates the requirement of an additional 0.2 full-time equivalent staff member (FTE) in order to offer the engineering design course, with no more than 20 students in each class.

Cost


The total cost of implementing the new course is estimated at $29,850 — $22,000 for professional learning and development, $4,850 for equipment and supplies, and $3,000 for the program fee.

To learn more about Project Lead the Way, visit pltw.org.