Idaho Builds Momentum for STEM

After teaching in Roseville, Calif., Project Lead The Way teacher Dave Reeve moved to Idaho in 2005 and helped the Nampa School District implement PLTW Gateway into each of the district’s middle schools. Since he became a master teacher in 2005, Reeve has lead over 1,000 hours of Core Training, the professional development necessary to lead students through PLTW curriculum. With his years of experience with PLTW, Reeve has seen it transform learning for his students.

“I have three goals for my students,” he said. “First is for them to develop a persistence of learning. So many of my students have a fixed mind set. They believe that if they are not successful at a given task the first time it is because they cannot do it. I want my students to know that failure is an option but that giving up is not. You may not be good at this now but as you learn and practice you will be.”

Reeve has seen students in his PLTW classes go on to have thriving careers in STEM fields and come back and thank him for teaching what he teaches. Former PLTW teacher and current PLTW Director of School Engagement Emmett Wemp also witnessed the transformational experience of students engaging in their own learning.

“As a high school engineering teacher in Nampa, Idaho, I was very impressed by the amount of growth and tenacity that students developed when going through the PLTW program,” Wemp said. “You could see it on their faces when they were able to connect what they were learning in other classes to real-world applications. Because of the grit that my students gained from this type of problem solving, students who weren’t even sure what they were going to do after high school were now trying to decide which university had the best engineering program for them.”

In early March, PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram was invited to speak to the Idaho STEM Caucus to help build momentum around STEM education in the state.

The Idaho STEM Caucus, a bi-partisan caucus in the legislature, was formed in 2015 by State Sen. Bob Nonini and State Rep. Reed DeMordaunt to promote STEM throughout Idaho in education, industry, business, and government.

“What does STEM really look like?” Bertram said. “To accomplish our mission, it’s not going to be just policy, but that we have to fundamentally change teaching and learning and what students expect from learning and how we deliver it.”

The Idaho STEM Caucus gathers legislators, business and industry leaders, as well as education stakeholders together to discuss how to move forward.

“We have to make these experiences in education relevant for students,” Bertram said. “Students have to know that these skills they are learning are not just necessary for the next grade or the next test, but that these are the skills necessary for life.”

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