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PLTW Announces New Computer Science Courses

Enhancements expand the K-12 CS pathway and provide more opportunities for students

INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 5, 2016) – Project Lead The Way announced today, in partnership with the White House and Computer Science Education Week, that it will expand its K-12 Computer Science pathway with two new units for middle school students and a new full-year high school course. The new opportunities will start with the 2017-18 school year.

“We believe that all students – beginning at a young age – need access to high-quality computer science education,” said PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram. “Computer science is rapidly changing, and with that evolution, we are reinforcing our commitment to providing an inspiring and inclusive K-12 computer science experience that empowers students at every age level, appeals to students of diverse backgrounds, and challenges them to solve real-world problems.”

With these enhancements to PLTW’s K-12 Computer Science pathway, students will have access to unique computer science learning experiences at every grade level, preparing them with the in-demand knowledge and transportable skills they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science is a critical component in more than 180 different types of industries, from auto repair to health care. All three new experiences will involve interdisciplinary learning, exposing students not only to computer science, but to various disciplines and subjects, helping them understand how computer science relates to the world around them.

New middle school units build on PLTW’s proven activity-, project-, problem-based (APB) instructional approach and empower students to solve problems using the powerful ideas behind computational thinking.

  • Computer Science for Innovators and Makers will allow students to discover computer science concepts and skills by creating personally relevant, tangible, and sharable projects. Throughout the unit, students will learn about programming for the physical world by blending hardware design and software development. They will design and develop a physical computing device, interactive art installation, or wearable, and plan and develop code for microcontrollers that bring their physical designs to life. Physical computing projects will promote student awareness of interactive systems, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and broaden their understanding of abstract computer science concepts through meaningful and authentic applications.
  • App Creators will expose students to computer science as a means of computationally analyzing and developing solutions to authentic problems through mobile app development, and will convey the positive impact of the application of computer science to other disciplines and to society.

    Students will customize their experience by choosing a problem that interests them from the areas of health, environment, emergency preparedness, education, community service, and school culture. Because problems in the real world involve more than one discipline, students will be introduced to biomedical science concepts as they work on solutions for the specific problems they choose to tackle.

At the high school level, PLTW is expanding its semester-long Introduction to Computer Science course to a full-year course and building on its APB instructional approach. The expanded and renamed course – PLTW Computer Science Essentials – will empower students to develop computational thinking skills that prepare them to advance to Computer Science Principles (CSP) and Computer Science A (CSA).

  • In Computer Science Essentials, students will experience the major topics, big ideas, and computational thinking practices used by computing professionals to solve problems and create value for others. They will use a visual programming language and advance to text-based programming. Throughout the course, students will have opportunities to apply computational thinking practices and collaborate just as computing professionals do to create products that address topics and problems important to them.

All three new experiences will recognize the diversity of students’ prior knowledge in computer science, welcoming students with limited knowledge but also challenging those with previous computer science experience. PLTW will provide teachers with an individualized professional development experience for each new unit or course, providing them with the content and resources they need to teach computer science.

Course content will align to the CSTA K-12 standards and newly released K-12 CS Frameworks.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. More than 9,000 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs. For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit



Media Contacts:
Jennifer Cahill
PLTW Senior Director of Media and Public Relations
(317) 669-0871