C-A pioneering K-12 STEM curriculum next fall

FLINT TWP. — Come September, Carman-Ainsworth Schools will offer a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum to students at every grade level.

Carman-Ainsworth will become the first district in Michigan to implement Project Lead The Way (PLTW) curriculum in all of its buildings – K-12, said Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff.

PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs, providing a K-12 curriculum, teacher professional development and business partnerships to help students develop skills needed to compete for jobs in a global economy,

“This project-based science curriculum is almost entirely hands-on and is normally taught at specialty STEM schools throughout the state,” Tunnicliff said. “By leveraging resources and earning grants for the last two year, we believe we will be able to offer this opportunity for all students.”

Across the nation, PLTW has 7,500 programs in more than 6,500 schools, trained more than 6,000 teachers in 2014 and has trained nearly 19,000 teachers since 1997.

PLTW’s specific programming in five areas of study, geared to grade level are:

PLTW Launch for grades K-5; PLTW Gateway for grades 6-8; PLTW Engineering, Biomedical for high school students.

According to information provided by David Swierpel, C-A director of community education, starting In September, CA will implement:

• PLTW Launch in all four elementary schools in grades K-5

• PLTW Gateway at CA Middle School

• The first course in the PLTW Biomedical Sciences curriculum at the high school

• PLTW Principles of Engineering as the second course in the engineering curriculum (funded from the General Motors grant obtained in 2014)

• Continued instruction of the PLTW Introduction to Engineering Design course, which was funded through a grant from General Motors in 2014

PLTW Launch will be used as the K-5 curriculum at all four C-A elementary schools, Swierpel said. Aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, the curriculum includes 24 modules, set according to grade-level standards. The 10-hour modules are presented in pairs that combine to create a thematic unit. Launch encourages students to become problem solvers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process, and employ critical thinking. They apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, learning that it is OK to take risks and make mistakes. Units are hands-on and project based.

PLTW Gateway provides a variety of engineering and biomedical science curriculum units. Students get rigorous and relevant experiences through activity-, project-, and problem-based learning. CAMS will be offering the Design & Modeling and Automation & Robotics units at CAMS as an elective choice for students. Additional units will be offered in future years. Students will use industry leading technology to solve problems while gaining skills in communication, collaboration, critical-thinking, and creativity.

PLTW Biomedical Science and PLTW Engineering classes are available to CAHS students as elective choices.

PLTW Biomedical Science allows high school students to investigate the roles of biomedical professionals as they study the concepts of human medicine, physiology, genetics, microbiology, and public health. Students engage in activities like investigating the death of a fictional person to learn content in the context of real-world cases. They examine the structures and interactions of human body systems and explore the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, all while working collaboratively to understand and design solutions to the most pressing health challenges of today and the future.

PLTW Engineering allows students to apply engineering, science, math, and technology to solve complex, open-ended problems in a real-world context. Students focus on the process of defining and solving a problem, not on getting the “right” answer. They learn how to apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to make the world a better place through innovation.

Independent research studies have found that PLTW students outperform their peers in school, are better prepared for post-secondary studies, and are more likely to consider careers as scientists, technology experts, engineers, mathematicians, healthcare providers, and researchers compared to their non- PLTW peers, Swierpel said.

Data From the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan stated that 44.2% of all Southeast Michigan job ads require STEM skills and that STEM employers will wait almost 50 days to fill openings

Carman-Ainsworth planned to hold its first CA STEM Partnership Team meeting on Wednesday, May 13. Representatives from Michigan PLTW were expected to attend to talk about the program as well as representatives from local colleges and universities. Also a CAHS student was slated to talk about the impact of experiences in this STEM Program. Any local businesses from a STEM related field that would like to join the C-A Partnership Team, are invited to call 591-3208 for more information.

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