Project Lead the Way

STEM education: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Why use STEM instruction?

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will grow 17 percent by 2018—nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields. By 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs because there will not be enough qualified workers to fill them. STEM is where jobs are today and where the job growth will be in the future. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) can support the district in adding more STEM related courses. ( PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs.)

The Raymore-Peculiar School district is researching STEM instruction including how to incorporate PLTW courses into its course and curriculum offerings. By implementing courses at the middle school first, students will have a foundation for STEM learning at the high school level. Here is a description of a foundation course for the middle school level:

Design & Modeling
Students apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They work in teams to design a playground and furniture, capturing research and ideas in their engineering notebooks. Using Autodesk® design software, students create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their innovative solutions.

At the high school level, there are three paths that a school could offer to students. The high school is researching the Biomedical Science and Engineering paths to implement first.

Here is a description of a Biomedical and Engineering course:

Principles of Biomedical Science
In the introductory course of the PLTW Biomedical Science program, students explore concepts of biology and medicine to determine factors that led to the death of a fictional person. While investigating the case, students examine autopsy reports, investigate medical history, and explore medical treatments that might have prolonged the person’s life. The activities and projects introduce students to human physiology, basic biology, medicine, and research processes while allowing them to design their own experiments to solve problems.

Principles of Engineering (POE, 1 year)

Through problems that engage and challenge, students explore a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, and automation. Students develop skills in problem solving, research, and design while learning strategies for design process documentation, collaboration, and presentation.

Leadership. Innovation. Continuous. Improvement.

Historically, science and math have been taught in isolation. The project-based aspects of the Project Lead The Way curriculum give students a chance to apply what they know, identify a problem, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning, rather than be passive recipients of information in a question-and-answer, right-or-wrong learning environment. When students understand how their education is relevant to their lives and future careers, they get excited, and that is why PLTW students are successful. Programs are flexible and customizable so that schools can meet their local curricular and community needs. Courses are designed to complement math and science courses offered by a school and in some instances are used as the core curriculum. PLTW programs use the following approach and guiding tenets:

  • Collaboration: We seek ongoing input and feedback from students, teachers, administrators, and subject matter experts. Our work is also informed by current research and experts in academics and industry.
  • Research/Evidence-Based: We follow Wiggins and McTighe’s approach, Understanding by Design® to develop a cohesive and coherent instructional path for students.
  • Problem-Based: We design activity-, project-, problem-based experiences to prepare students to solve problems. This approach creates scaffolding for student learning and provides the rigor and relevance that engages and empowers our students.


At Project Lead The Way, we believe it is imperative that educators, nonprofits, policymakers, and private companies come together to stimulate interest in STEM fields and nurture these competencies. PLTW is the catalyst for this movement. We are creating outstanding partnerships with leading corporations, philanthropic organizations, and educational institutions. Today, we have alliances with approximately 50 post-secondary and research institutions, nearly 100 leading corporations, and a number of significant philanthropic organizations.

Recently, PLTW and College Board have created a partnership.

The partnership increases access to more opportunities for all students to be college and career ready. It combines the strengths of two leading organizations – widely accepted college credit opportunities through the Advance Placement® (AP) Program and PLTW’s multidisciplinary, applied learning programs in biomedical science, computer science and engineering. Both organizations are known to improve student outcomes and help ensure successful transitions to college and career. The partnership creates pathways through a combination of PLTW courses and AP courses – PLTW courses that introduce all students to the field, AP courses that provide an opportunity for college credit, and PLTW specialization courses that focus on knowledge and skills needed for rewarding careers. Students may also earn credentials signaling their readiness for college and careers, as well as opportunities such as internships and scholarships.