PLTW High School Receives Visit from Thailand’s Education Officials to View STEM Best Practices

Minuteman Career and Technical High School Project Lead The Way teacher Becky Quay and her students are used to receiving attention for their PLTW program. Last year, the Boston Globe profiled Quay’s all-girls engineering camp during the school’s spring break. But last week, the attention went international when a five-member delegation from Thailand, led by the nation’s minister of science and technology, visited Minuteman to learn about the Lexington, Mass., school’s STEM initiatives and hands-on career-ready education.

“We were excited to show the visitors the sophisticated level to which our students understand the engineering they have been introduced to through Project Lead The Way,” Quay told PLTW after the visit. “Our students compete in SkillsUSA competitions in mobile robotics, mechatronics, and industrial robotics, among others. Project Lead The Way gives our students a great introduction and foundation to go above and beyond with their engineering interests.”

The delegation visited a class of juniors, all currently taking PLTW’s Principles of Engineering (POE) course. Students were engaged in the unit on statics doing a truss analysis. Quay, who also teaches Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) and Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA), pulled a few students aside to demonstrate what they’ve done with programming related to the VEX robotics unit, simulated pneumatics in the fluid power unit, and programming an industrial robotic arm. She also had the school’s Digital Electronics teacher join them.

Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj, Thailand’s Minister of Science and Technology, also visited the school’s Carpentry and Plumbing programs. In sitting down with the school’s superintendent, he indicated his desire to increase the number of STEM-trained workers in Thailand while also setting STEM education as a key national agenda.

“We need to find innovative ways to change education,” said Dr. Durongkaveroj. “Students want to do something meaningful, instead of just memorizing facts.”

“We are a vocational school,” Quay explained, “and our students love getting involved with other shops to share their skills and creativity. We also have the opportunity to learn from other shops – manual transmissions from the Automotive shop when we study gears in POE, surveying from the Environmental and Horticulture shops and construction from Carpentry in CEA, for example. We were also very excited to show how we all work together in our community to learn from each other.”

PLTW Senior Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer David Dimmett also joined for the visit.

“Minuteman Career and Technical High School is doing a remarkable job connecting students to the community and a range of real-world, relevant applications of their PLTW learning,” he said. “These students are building both interest and aptitude for tackling some of their community’s and our world’s greatest challenges. My time with the students and their committed teachers and school leaders gives me great confidence in their future and ours.”

“It was an honor,” Quay concluded. “Knowing we might influence a positive innovative change in another country’s educational system is amazing. I am a big advocate of STEM, and am very pleased to see Dr. Durongkaveroj making changes to support STEM involvement through educating the younger generation. I think our students felt this impact as well, and I think it brings great value to how our students, the parents, and others in the community view our program.”