5 Tips to Recruit Students to Your PLTW Courses

The inaugural cohort of PLTW Distinguished Districts and Schools has shared amazing success stories, and now, they’re sharing their tips for recruiting students to high school PLTW courses.

Learn what recruitment approaches work for them and discover ideas you can implement in your own school or district! 

1. Be Creative

We held our first Senior Recognition BBQ in which seniors in our engineering academy and club were recognized if they chose to pursue an engineering major at a college or university of their choice. Lunch and hats of each school were provided to the seniors, courtesy of one of our board members at Azimuth Technology.

– Cliff Greer, Teacher, Naples High School

We drive our Aerospace Engineering robots around the school. The "buzz" is very effective at capturing student attention!

– Catherine Garland, Teacher, Uncommon Charter High School

2. Spread the Word

My director goes to the middle school and advertises to the incoming freshman about the PLTW program. I have gone to club nights and advertised the program there too.

We also have a very strong parent organization, Friends of STEM, that helps promote the PLTW program to parents and students alike. Finally, I have held workshops with local Girl Scout and Brownie troops to promote STEM and the PLTW program.

– Michael Stano, Teacher, Garden City High School

Two months before the district’s “lottery season” in January, the program coordinator visits all private, charter, and public school eighth grade upper-level math classrooms with a 45-minute presentation designed to capture student interest in PLTW classes. Then, one month before the lottery opens, the program conducts an information session, complete with a 10-student volunteer Q&A panel.

– Tim Velegol, PLTW Engineering Program Coordinator, Riverside High School

3. Designate PLTW Student Ambassadors  

Every year, we speak to the eighth grade students about the PLTW courses available in the high school. We bring current PLTW high school students to speak about their impressions of the courses and show some of the projects they have created in the PLTW courses.

We also bring current PLTW high school students to our elementary schools and work with the fifth grade students to show them the projects they did in their classes and talk to them about what engineering is. In addition, PLTW alumni come speak to our classes each year about how PLTW courses have helped them in their studies.

– Robert E Curtis Jr., Teacher, Delaware Valley High School

We do outreach to all of our feeder middle schools. A PLTW teacher and current PLTW students visit and showcase what they're working on. This includes games they've coded, robots they've built, etc. We make sure that both boys and girls go as our PLTW ambassadors.

– Catherine Garland, Teacher, Uncommon Charter High School

4. Host a Student Showcase

Every year, the high school holds a Spring Showcase during which eighth grade students and their parents visit the high school and learn about our programs. In addition, this year we started the “Beyond U” night, where we showcase the CTE programs on campus.

– William Chapman, Teacher, Arcadia High School

Worcester Technical High School is among the few schools in Maryland that offers all three PLTW pathways: PLTW Computer Science, PLTW Engineering, and PLTW Biomedical Science.

We host a county-wide STEM festival with a showcase of all the three programs and host a county-wide open house before scheduling for eighth graders, giving parents and guardians an opportunity to visit the school and see all three programs.

– Aarti Sangwan, Teacher, Worcester Technical High School

5. Broadcast Your Offerings (Literally)

I created a brochure/newsletter briefly describing our programs. It is given to prospective students and their parents at our school as well as at our middle schools and district conferences. We also have our student news station and newspaper cover our big competitions.

– Cliff Greer, Teacher, Naples High School

We also recruit using media: Tweeting everyday projects, running videos in high school announcements, displaying banners at the middle school.

– Aarti Sangwan, Teacher, Worcester Technical High School

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Interested in earning recognition as a PLTW Distinguished District or School? The program recognition process is now open for the 2018-19 PLTW Distinguished School and District designation. Districts and schools wishing to receive recognition can fill out the validation form on the Program Recognition page with their 2017-18 data until Dec. 21. PLTW will notify award recipients in February 2019.

PLTW’s blog intends to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.