Student Population: 8,000
PLTW Teachers: 8
- Gateway To Technology
- Pathway To Engineering
- Biomedical Sciences
Partnership Team: Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Bluegrass Community College, The Center for Quality People, University of Kentucky
Colleges Attended by Graduates: University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Purdue University
Scott County Schools in the bluegrass state of Kentucky is taking the old African proverb – “it takes a village to raise a child” – to a new level. The innovative Kentucky school district’s Elkhorn Crossing School houses three “villages”: PLTW Engineering, PLTW Biomedical Sciences and Media Arts.
The villages are the newest development in Scott County’s PLTW Model Schools program. All three Scott County middle schools offer PLTW’s Gateway To Technology (GTT) program, each with a unique schedule format. Scott County’s Ninth Grade School and Scott County High School offer PLTW’s Pathway To Engineering (PTE) and Biomedical Sciences (BMS) now in tandem with the newer state-of-the-art Elkhorn Crossing School. Scott County has a district-wide implementation of PLTW programs.
PLTW’s flexible delivery platform allows schools to implement its programs no matter what the structure of the school or district, said Dr. Francis O’Hara, who developed and implemented PLTW over a five-year period in Scott County, including the newly opened Elkhorn Crossing School with its villages. The village concept is based on almost 40 years of research indicating that students in small schools perform better than their peers. Scott County sophomores and juniors enroll in one of the three villages, rotating out of Scott County High School into Elkhorn village classrooms for a half day – classrooms that could only be called Innovation Zones. Each village contains three highly skilled teachers collaborating to intersect their respective disciplines.
The design forces the schools – and educators – to collaborate and correlate, and ultimately to intersect and integrate the curriculum. PLTW teachers with physiology and engineering degrees and 8 to 10 years of authentic experience – managing people, writing proposals, planning budgets – work alongside traditional teachers, fusing core content classes and career classes, turning facts and figures into ingenuity and inventiveness.
STEM Education Begins Early in Scott County
The villages are the fourth opportunity for Scott County students to participate in PLTW’s project-based STEM programs. PLTW begins in Scott County at the elementary level, where school counselors who’ve attended PLTW Counselor Conferences prepare students for participation in PLTW’s Gateway Summer Academy between 5th and 6th grade.
6th and 7th grade students take PLTW’s GTT program as part of the required curriculum at one of the three middle schools. Following that, Scott County Ninth Grade School students may opt to take PLTW’s PTE or BMS program, extending a learning approach that fuels imaginative thinking, creative problem solving and innovative solutions. In 10th and 11th grade students enter the villages and return to Scott County High School full time as seniors, where they complete PLTW’s PTE or BMS program.
As of September 2010, Scott County Schools will have 2,220 students in their PLTW STEM program, and the University of Kentucky College of Engineering will welcome more graduates from Scott County Schools than from any other school in the state.
Scott County Schools offers PLTW’s middle school STEM program, Gateway To Technology, in all three middle schools. The Ninth Grade School offers IED and PBS and Scott County High School offers IED, POE, DE, CEA, PBS, HBS and MI. A new state-of-the-art facility, Elkhorn Crossing School, which opened in fall 2010, is designed to promote the cross-pollination of curricula and features three “villages”: PLTW Biomedical Sciences, PLTW Engineering and Media Arts.
Every year during Women in Engineering Day, dozens of female students visit local industry where they interact with female engineers and scientists at work. The day includes hands-on projects and inspirational speakers to promote STEM to young women.
Teachers meet quarterly to align middle school and high school STEM curricula and biweekly to create relevant connections between career and core content classes.
Scott County Schools works closely with the University of Kentucky College of Engineering so that the university can anticipate student expectations of their own programs. The University of Kentucky also hosts high school juniors and seniors during the semester for an engineering design workshop. Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) along with Toyota and the Center for Quality People and Organizations provide juniors and seniors with a series of seminars and field trips and the opportunity to earn up to $15,000 in scholarships to BCTC.
Communications and Outreach
Since PLTW was first implemented in 2006, Scott County has received 400 visitors to the program including the presidents of the University of Kentucky and of Toyota Manufacturing. Congressman Ben Chandler; President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Steve St. Angelo; and Dr. Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education, have visited Scott as well. PLTW teachers have demonstrated the PLTW program throughout Kentucky: at the SME Legislature Luncheon, PLTW Kentucky Counselors Summit, BEST Regional Competition, Careers in Construction Expo and STEM Girls Collaborative Summit.