Launch Teacher Pam Cole Encourages Students to Fail Forward

WICHITA, Kansas (Dec. 11, 2015) – Pam Cole, science teacher at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Goddard USD 265 in Wichita, started teaching PLTW Launch this year and has seen her students embrace the process of learning from failure.

“I encourage the students to take chances and learn from their mistakes,” Cole said. “Some of our brightest students fear failure. Project Lead The Way helps students to be better problem solvers, critical thinkers, and not to be afraid to take chances in their lives.”

Project Lead The Way was in the middle and high schools in Goddard School District, and Cole was impressed with the program and excited to bring it to her elementary students.

President and CEO of PLTW Vince Bertram visited Mrs. Cole’s classroom last week and had the opportunity to interact with students as they shared their gliders. Students tested their designs and discussed how they would improve their project.

“Students without fear collaborate, think more deeply, explore the soul's natural curiosity, and move past the ever lingering ‘what if,’” she said. “For too long, we have ignored collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication in our classrooms.  Because of PLTW, my students will make a difference in the 21st century.”

One major shift she sees teaching PLTW is the time it takes to really let students explore.

“Our educational system has dictated the speed in which we teach, and I have found with PLTW, we need to slow down and allow the kids to be in control of their learning,” she said. “It should not be about how many things we can teach them, but the depth of their understanding.”

Cole looks forward to seeing the long-term effects of getting students excited about math and science at an early age.

“Because we are starting Launch at a young age, I am hoping to see a change with girls and their excitement about PLTW and the STEM fields,” she said. “Even from a young age, some students are led to believe that males will excel in the math and sciences, and females will excel in the arts. These glass ceilings limit their creative possibilities for both genders. I believe that any child can be an engineer, computer programmer, veterinarian, doctor, or even a teacher and a parent. By tapping into their creativity and natural curiosity, a spark can ignite.”

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