Teachers and Students Take Lessons Learned at PLTW Summit 2016 Back to School

Students, teachers, and administrators who participated in PLTW Summit 2016 are wrapping up the school year. PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram had the opportunity to visit some of those students at their own schools to see how their experience in Indianapolis rolled over into the remaining school days.

Mary Stauffer Middle School

PLTW teacher Tri Tansopalucks from Mary Stauffer Middle School in Downey, California, welcomed Bertram into his classroom to visit with the students who presented an app they created to address water conservation in their community.

“Attending the PLTW Summit was a transformative and uplifting experience for the whole group,” Tansopalucks said. “We are so thankful for the opportunity provided by Verizon and PLTW. Talk about solving to real-world problems; their app embodies that connection.”

Students not only learned about computer science, but had the opportunity to network with professionals from around the country.

“From the moment they arrived, the students were treated like superstars,” he said. “They shared their Intro to Computer Science experience with other ICS students, teachers, administrators, and education policy makers. The experience gave them a new sense of confidence that they could change their circumstances for the better. Whether or not they choose a computer science-related career in the future, I believe Summit positively changed their lives.”

Alyda Mir, principal at Mary Stauffer Middle School, sees students motivated to learn and engaged in lessons in PLTW classes. The students that traveled to Summit returned with stories to share with their peers about what they learned in Indianapolis.

“Every time I walk into a PLTW class, my students are working and are not even phased when I ask them what they are working on,” Mir said. “They can easily tell me what the goal is for their activities, why it’s important, and why they love their classes.”

Vista Innovation Design Academy (VIDA)

Bertram also visited students from Vista Innovation Design Academy (VIDA) in Vista, California, who attended Summit 2016. Teacher Annette Wilson has seen PLTW engage more girls at her middle school as early exposure builds their confidence. Two girls from VIDA attended Summit and had the “time of their lives,” Wilson said.

“I think that many people have a perception that girls aren't as good at the STEM subjects as boys so they don't encourage girls to pursue those fields as much as they encourage boys,” Wilson said. “I also think that many bright students are afraid of failing so they don't put themselves out there in terms of the challenges they pursue.”

Wilson has seen many girls discover that the Automation and Robotics class was not only something they enjoyed, but something they were really good at.

“Through these experiences, I have seen girls who never thought they could build a test bed, [and] do it more successfully than many boys,” she said. “Their confidence level has soared, and best of all, they know they can accomplish anything they want, because they are willing to try.”

Mission Vista High School

Dara Rosen traveled to PLTW Summit 2016 with her students from Mission Vista High School in Oceanside, California, where they presented about their school, hosted a table in the exhibit hall, networked, and introduced a keynote speaker.

Bertram visited MVHS and participated in the student awards night and met with Rosen and her students.

“The hands-on, problem-solving, and real-world nature of the curriculum keeps the students engaged,” Rosen said. “It's amazing to see how their skills in writing, presenting, teamwork, leadership, and lab skills develop. Attending Summit this year with my students was a wonderful experience. They took advantage of each and every opportunity, and I watched with pride.”

Wheaton High School

Tom Siegrist traveled to Indianapolis with students from Wheaton High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, and enjoyed the professional development he experienced along with his students.

“The opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from experts in my field was both inspiring and impactful for my own professional development,” he said. “I walked away with a tool bag and road map to employ and follow so we can grow the number of females in our engineering program. My students experienced many firsts and walked away feeling accomplished, appreciated, and prepared to enter into their respective colleges.

Returning to school, Siegrist was excited to share his experience with his colleagues.

“They are an awesome team and jumped right in with me to try some new things so that we may continue to grow our program,” he said.

Bertram visited Wheaton High School and learned about the projects PLTW students were completing as the year wrapped up.

Bel Air High School

Bertram also had the chance to participate in end-of-the-year celebrations at Bel Air High School in Bel Air, Maryland.

Erica Harris is assistant principal at Bel Air High School, and presented at PLTW Summit 2016 with teachers at her school. Since piloting PLTW Biomedical Science at Bel Air High School, Harris has seen her students gain the skills necessary to thrive after high school.

“’I want to do what I do in biomed every day for the rest of my life.’ How many high school educators are lucky enough to hear this about the course they teach?” Harris said. “Not enough, which is why we value the impact that Project Lead The Way has had on our students, our teachers, and our community.

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