Stepping Back, Stepping Forward, PLTW Puts Students Ahead of the Rest

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) helps students develop the problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills needed to succeed in the global economy. Students who understand how their education is relevant to their lives and future careers are more excited and engaged, and PLTW helps to achieve this on a regular basis. Former PLTW student Annie Kovach is one example of how PLTW prepares students to apply what they know, identify problems, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning. PLTW encourages students to pursue their passions in STEM, and, like Annie, puts them a step ahead of the rest.

My name is Annie Kovach, and I am currently a freshman at Mississippi State University studying Biomedical Engineering.  Although universities encourage freshmen research, it is a rare opportunity for college freshmen to find positions where they meet all the necessary skill requirements right out of high school. During high school, I participated in Project Lead The Way's (PLTW) Biomedical Science Academy at Bob Jones High School in Madison, AL. This meant four courses of intense coursework involving primarily the application of science and technology in medicine. We also worked on developing skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and professionalism. Through this class, I figured out that I wanted to major in Biomedical Engineering. I knew when I finished the first class, Principles of Biomedical Science, that I would be a step ahead of other freshmen when I got to my university. However, I could never imagine the extent to which the skills I gained through this program would be so pertinent to the university environment. PLTW’s impact came this semester, my second semester as a freshman. I told myself last semester that I was not going to seek and find a research position on campus until sophomore year when I had a better grip on things and knew more professors. However, the Bagley College of Engineering (BCoE) sent out an email with a listing of professors looking for undergraduate researchers. As I scrolled down the list, I did not think I would be qualified for any positions that interested me or eligible since I had not taken the required courses yet, but to my surprise there was one project. The project’s title was "A Novel Magnetic Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System for the Treatment of Osteosarcoma" and the requirement was to have experience with cell culture testing. Nanoparticles are one of my main areas of interest, and thanks to PLTW I had knowledge of nanoparticles, osteosarcoma, and a great deal of experience with cell culture experience requirement.
I now get to work under a junior Biomedical Engineer major to research how to use nanoparticles to target and effectively treat osteosarcoma. We will be submitting posters to the Shackouls Honors College Undergraduate Research Competition and the Bagley College of Engineering Undergraduate Research Competition. For the BCoE poster competition, I get to be the first name on the project. If you have ever been on a big research project, you know that name order is huge. I will be presenting a summary of all the research and the results we find over the semester. This opportunity would not be possible without the skills the PLTW Biomedical Science program at Bob Jones has provided me.

PLTW success stories, like Annie's, take place every day in schools and classrooms across the country. Click here to hear more of those stories.