The Northwestern State University Elementary Lab School will implement PLTW Launch, the elementary curriculum for Project Lead the Way, a national program that introduces engineering concepts to students to encourage interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas. The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Education Fund has pledged to support the cost of implementing the program.
ELab science teachers Hillary Gray, third grade, and Jessie Church, fourth and fifth grade, participated in PLWT-Launch training last summer at NSU and will begin the program in January with 44 first graders, 48 third graders, 54 fourth graders and 56 fifth graders.
“The curriculum we are implementing includes the following STEM concepts: computer science for first grade, force and motion for third grade, energy collisions and conversions for fourth grade and bio-medical science and robotics for fifth grade,” Church said.
“The NSU Elementary Lab School has shown strong commitment to STEM programs by starting a robotics club in the past two years and participating in regional competition,” said Mike Wolff, an officer with the Natchitoches Economic Development Commission. “The five focus areas for the Chamber Education Fund is Project Lead the Way, middle school math development, robotics, summer camps and industry based certifications. We stated that the majority of our funds, or roughly 60 percent of these funds, would be our goal to spend on Project Lead the Way with the balance on the other areas of focus.”
Northwestern State is Louisiana’s affiliate university for Project Lead the Way and offers facilities, training and support to PLTW programs in place in several parishes throughout the state. This year, NSU’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development began PLTW training as elective hours for its teacher candidates so those graduates are already PLTW certified when they begin their careers.