Leading the Way for the Scientists, Engineers, Technologists and Mathematicians of Tomorrow

 
 
 
 

PLTW teacher Ms. Garroni teaches her eighth grade class at Walker Middle School the ins and outs of design.
 
   
            Story Highlights:
 
  • Lockheed Martin announced a new $2 million, multi-year grant to support the expansion STEM programs in Florida
  • This grant will expand the Project Lead The Way program to all 184 OCPS schools, impacting more than 50,000 students
  • Project Lead The Way is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs 
 
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One classroom, one teacher, 15 desks and 15 students — at first glance, Ms. Garroni’s eighth grade classroom at Walker Middle School sounds like your typical middle school classroom. Once the bell rings and students move eagerly to their current engineering projects, it’s clear that this classroom is anything but ordinary.

How do you explain the students’ eagerness, their energy and their palpable enthusiasm to begin learning? Four words — Project Lead The Way (PLTW). Ms. Garroni’s eighth grade class is not your average science class, and Ms. Garroni is not your average science teacher. She is a Project Lead The Way teacher, and despite the challenged economic status of some of her students, they learn how to design playgrounds, build robots and, ultimately, how to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

For Ms. Garroni, the best part of teaching Project Lead The Way curriculum is seeing the “aha” moments that her students have. She wishes more students had the opportunity to learn through this hands-on STEM program.

“When you see kids involved in science, technology, engineering and math, their minds open to worlds they didn’t know,” Garroni said. “I would like to have Project Lead The Way at all schools because I think it is a very, very good program. It opens students’ minds — they really are involved and they really like the classes.”

Leading the Way in STEM Education

On Thursday, Feb. 5, Ms. Garroni’s Project Lead The Way wish came true for all schools in the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) district when Lockheed Martin announced a new $2 million, multi-year grant to support the expansion of college and career-focused STEM programs. This grant will expand the Project Lead The Way program to all 184 OCPS schools, impacting more than 50,000 students. This effort is part of Lockheed Martin’s national partnership with Project Lead The Way, which supports district-wide implementations in urban centers with high populations of underserved and minority students.

On Thursday, Feb. 5, Lockheed Martin announced a new $2 million, multi-year grant to support the expansion of college and career-focused Project Lead The Way programs in Central Florida. From left, Rick Edwards, Missiles and Fire Control executive vice president; Bill Sublette, Orange County School Board chairman; Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Orange County Public Schools superintendent; Dale Bennett, Mission Systems and Training executive vice president; and Dr. Vince Bertram, Project Lead The Way president and CEO.

Project Lead The Way is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. The OCPS program will provide pre-engineering classes taught by teachers for all K-12 grade levels, teacher training and equipment. The partnership between Lockheed Martin and OCPS will be strengthened by in-class supplemental activities led by Lockheed Martin engineers.

“Orange County Public Schools has enjoyed a tremendous partnership with Lockheed Martin and Project Lead The Way for several years,” said OCPS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins. “We are extremely grateful for this generous grant which will significantly improve the STEM experience for all of our students.”

 

   
 

The PLTW model empowers students and transforms the classroom into a collaboration space where content comes to life.   

       
 
Ms. Garroni’s eighth graders learn about designing systems with gears. Holm, third from the left, works to assemble her project.

The Project Lead The Way Experience

The success of Project Lead The Way can be measured through classroom statistics, but the program’s impact truly shines when speaking with our nation’s future engineers, chemists and biologists. Take eighth grader Gladys Holm for example. Gladys is an aspiring biochemist, and when asked what inspired this career interest, she has a clear answer. 

“It was in Project Lead The Way when Ms. Garroni had us look up different engineering jobs,” Holm said. “I love life science and I like engineering, why not just take the two and put it together so you could make something for life?”

Holm is one of many students who have developed a passion for STEM fields through the impact of Project Lead The Way. These are skills that the United States desperately needs for the future.

Defining the Need for STEM

Advancing STEM education is a critical focus for Lockheed Martin. We know firsthand the importance of educating our young people in these areas. Our future success — and the United States’ technological advantage — depend on a constant supply of highly trained, highly capable technical talent.

Lockheed Martin believes strongly that advancing STEM education requires collaboration among industry, educators, policy makers and families.  As an industry leader with an employee population that includes 60,000 engineers, scientists and IT professionals, Lockheed Martin is committed to working with organizations like Project Lead The Way to develop programs that educate and inspire tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians. 

To learn more about how Lockheed Martin is supporting future generations of STEM professionals, visit the STEM Education page.
 

February 12, 2015