Project Lead the Way (PLTW)

Design & Modeling and Science of Technology

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Overview of the class

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) provides science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs for students from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Both Design & Modeling and Science of Technology are part of PLTW’s Gateway (middle school) curriculum.

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In this class, students will learn STEM concepts by participating in activities, projects, and problem-based learning. They will also explore the meaning of engineering by following the engineering design process. Students will have the opportunity to identify problems, find solutions, apply their knowledge, and lead their own learning. In the first semester, students will participate in Design and Modeling. They will work in teams to create furniture and a playground (fun!), recording their ideas and research in their engineering notebooks. Students will showcase their innovative designs by using Autodesk® design software to develop virtual images.

During the second semester, students will participate in Science of Technology. They will use chemistry, physics, and nanotechnology concepts in order to make ice cream (yum!), clean up an oil spill, and discover the properties of nano-materials.

Outcome of Class

Students will improve their collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical-thinking skills. The intent is for students to feel challenged and inspired to continue learning STEM concepts.

Units of Study: Design and Modeling

  • PLTW Gateway Introduction:

    • Exploring Engineering Careers

    • PLTW Engineering Notebook

    • STEM investigation

    • The Design Process

  • Different types of Measurement

    • Understanding Practical Measurements – Standard and Metric Measurements

    • Applying measurement practices – Skimmer

  • Sketching and Dimensioning

    • How to Use AutoDesk Inventor

    • Contrasting Orthographic and Isometric sketching

  • Designing and Implementing for Production

    • Pegboard, Bracket

    • Furniture Design

Units of Study: Science of Technology

  • Discovering Applied Chemistry Basics

    • Let’s Make Ice Cream, Gluing It all together, Oil Spill

  • Nanotechnology

  • Applied Physics

    • Exploring Simple & Compound Machines

  • Apply AutoDesk procedures to the Real World – Playground, Roller Coaster Mania, Rube Goldberg, Dragster


Each activity and lesson will be worth a point value. Students will earn a letter grade for this course. Much of the work will be online through Google Classroom; however, students will also need to keep an Engineering Notebook. Students should check their grades frequently on MISTAR Student Connect or MISTAR Parent Portal at


Retakes of summative assessments will be provided upon student initiation. Students will have four school days to talk to the teacher and their parent/guardian about retaking a summative assessment. Before the retake will take place, students will be expected to fill out a Retake Form in order to communicate what they have done to continue working on the needed skills. Students will then be given a different assessment testing the same skills. This can be done before or after school.

Daily Supplies





Engineering Notebook (provided by school)

Very Helpful Supplies

Hot glue sticks

Duct Tape

Masking Tape

Who is Mrs. Cullen?

I am a S.T.E.M. and technology teacher for 7th and 8th graders. I have been teaching for 18 years. My husband, three kids and I love to travel up north and spend time with family. I love to read and love to cook. One day, I hope to have visited all the National Parks in the United States (well, maybe 90% of them-some of them sure are far away).


While this class is an elective, it is rigorous and requires focus, dedication, and hard work. It is expected that all students will give 100% during class. There are a multitude of ways for students to continue practicing, researching, and exploring the world of engineering at home as well, but I will try to keep homework to a minimum. In order for us to have fun building something, we have to understand the concepts behind its creation first. This means that students will be taking notes, keeping an organized Engineer’s Notebook, and held accountable for all parts of the Design Process. In addition to the seriousness of the curriculum, it is important that students understand that the materials and computer software we will be working with are not cheap, horseplay, misuse, carelessness, and/or theft will not be tolerated.

Further expectations:

  • Be prompt
  • -Be in your seat and ready to learn when the bell rings.
  • Be prepared
  • -Have materials with you and know due dates.

  • Be a polite and positive participant
  • -Respect one another, no put downs.
  • Be productive
  • -Turn in work on time, and always do your best.
  • Be a problem solver
  • -Correct problems peacefully before they escalate.

Class Procedures

  • Entering the classroom: Students will enter in a respectful manner: quiet, under control & in a timely manner. Go to assigned seat, and read & follow the directions given on the PowerPoint that will be running on the front screen.

  • Tardy to class: Students are considered tardy to class if they are not in the classroom and in their seat when the bell rings.

  • “Something to write with”: Students are required to have a pencil or pen, folder and any other required material needed for class.

  • Turning in assignments: Assignments are expected to be turned in on the day they are due or submitted through Google Classroom. Points will be deducted if assignments are not submitted on time.

  • Student responsibilities after an absence: It is the responsibility of the student to see/email me or check Google Classroom to get any notes or make-up work. One day will be allowed to work for each day missed. There is a link to the daily agenda in Google Classroom.

  • Communication procedures with parents and families: Occasional emails, notes or phone calls will be sent home for various reasons. Parents are always invited to email me.

  • Ending class: Towards the end of the hour, I will direct the class to “Clean up your workstation”. Students are expected to return their materials to the appropriate places neatly, log-off their computer, and stay in their assigned seat until bell rings. They will be dismissed when the bell rings

Contact Mrs. Cullen

I am available for questions and help before school, during class and at lunch on A days. I will be out of the building on B days.