Core Training at Industry Sites Takes Real-World Learning to the Next Level

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) will train more than 8,000 teachers across the U.S. this summer, immersing them in a hands-on, collaborative learning environment that prepares them to teach PLTW’s transformative curriculum. Through PLTW Core Training, teachers take on the role of the student and gain invaluable experience to take back to the classroom. At some training sites, that experience includes a behind-the-scenes look at how top companies use technology to power global operations.

Teachers at a recent Computer Science for Innovators and Makers Core Training got a firsthand look at the FedEx Express Memphis Hub, which is the oldest and largest facility in the FedEx Express network.

The hub processes more than one million packages every day, connecting customers to more than 220 countries and territories on six continents.

Kim Heilenbach was a participant at the Computer Science for Innovators and Makers Core Training, and she also teaches Design and Modeling at Sunset Ridge School in Northfield, Illinois. Heilenbach expressed that she’s looking forward to sharing with her students the industry insights she gained at the training.

“I will absolutely take back to students the amount of opportunity that is in the world for computer science skills,” she said. “Not just coding, but the need for builders, innovators, collaborators, problem-solvers, and more. I have so much opportunity to connect my experience to what I am teaching in the classroom.”

Heilenbach, who has attended PLTW Core Trainings before, enjoyed the additional career context of training onsite at a global company.

“One thing that really stands out about this Core Training was that we were able to see directly how PLTW transfers into real-world careers by touring the FedEx World Hub,” she said. “From seeing inputs and outputs, to automation and robotics, to coding and problem-solving, this experience has made it clear that when we give students the opportunity to learn these skills, we are guiding them in a direction that prepares them for success in their future careers.”

PLTW Professional Development is designed to create a dynamic learning experience for educators through powerful and flexible instructional support so they can lead students in this kind of learning.

“So many professional development experiences talk about why the subject is needed or why it is preparing students for their future,” she said. “At PLTW Professional Development, we were immersed in an experience that showed us how what we are teaching translates straight into the real world for students. Oftentimes teachers wonder if what they are teaching is relevant enough or is giving students the right set of skills. By seeing the FedEx World Hub firsthand, it’s not even a question to me anymore.  When it comes to building students’ skills to prepare them for the future, PLTW is at the forefront of what companies are looking for in their job force.”

PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram joined the teachers on the tour and shared how important it is that students understand what opportunities are available to them.

“Every experience our students have in the classroom must have relevancy for them after school,” he said. “We are proud to partner with FedEx to open up this connection for our great teachers so they can continue to show students what is possible with in-demand knowledge and skills.”

Project Lead The Way is committed to empowering teachers to inspire and engage students in this learning, and part of that is to provide more opportunities for teachers to gain industry and business experience through tours, hands-on learning, and conversations with professionals in a variety of STEM-related fields. This summer, teachers have access to PLTW Professional Development at top companies such as FedEx and Cerner, and more opportunities will be available beginning in 2019.

Stay current on Vince’s travels – and the latest in education and workforce development news – by following him on Twitter at @VinceBertram