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Project Lead The Way (PLTW)

Course Descriptions


Automation & Robotics/Design & Modeling (7th Grade)

Automation and Robotics (AR) is a nine-week STEM unit of study. The focus of this unit is the development of automation and robotics and their use to improve daily life. Students will investigate mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Using the VEX® Robotics platform, students will design, build, and program real-world devices such as traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms.

Design and Modeling (DM) is a middle school level course that is appropriate for 7th and 8th grade students who are interested in design and engineering. The major focus of the DM course is to introduce students to design process, research and analysis, teamwork, communication methods, global and human impacts, engineering standards, and technical documentation. The course assumes no previous knowledge. Design and Modeling is one of the two  foundation courses in the Gateway middle school program. The course applies and concurrently develops secondary level knowledge and skills in mathematics, science, and technology.

Medical Detectives/Flight & Space (8th Grade)

Prerequisite: Completed PLTW in 7th grade.

Students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they analyze genetic testing results to diagnose disease and study DNA evidence found at a “crime scene.” They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, investigate how to measure and interpret vital signs, and learn how the systems of the human body work together to maintain health.

The exciting world of aerospace comes alive through Flight and Space. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build, and test an airfoil. Custom-built simulation software allows students to experience space travel.


Introduction to Engineering/Design (9th Grade)

Students dig deep into the engineering design process applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands on projects.  They work individually and in teams to design solutions to a variety of problems.   They learn to use 3d modeling software and will have access to 3d printers.

Credit: 10.00 | Graduation Requirement: Applied Skills | A-G College Requirement: G

Principals of Engineering (10th Grade)

Prerequisite: Introduction to Engineering/Design

Through problems that engage and challenge, students explore a broad range of engineering topics including mechanisms, electrical circuits, structures, materials, and automation.  Students will use VEX EDR Robotics to design, build and program robots and machines.  Students will also have the opportunity to compete in local robotics competitions.

Credit: 10.00 | Graduation Requirement: Elective | A-G College Requirement: G

Aerospace Engineering (11th Grade)

Prerequisite: Principals of Engineering

This course propels students’ learning in the fundamentals of atmospheric and space flight. As they explore the physics of flight, students bring the concepts to life by designing an airfoil, propulsion system, and rockets. They learn basic orbital mechanics using industry-standard software. They also explore robot systems through projects such as remotely operated vehicles.

Credit: 10.00 | Graduation Requirement: Elective | A-G College Requirement: G

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About PLTW

"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.

We develop all PLTW programs using 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. 

PLTW courses are aligned with Common Core State Standards in math and English Language Arts, Next Generation Science Standards, and other national and state standards. Yet, our 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."


Learn more about Project Lead the Way.