Project Lead The Way Launches Redesigned, More Robust Innovation Portal

INDIANAPOLIS– Nov. 5, 2014 – Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs, unveiled the next generation of the Innovation Portal at the organization’s national conference, the PLTW Summit.

Developed by the nation’s leading STEM educators, the Innovation Portal is a free, open, and secure tool for all K-16 students, teachers, and project mentors that enables students to showcase their work and share it with mentors, universities, and businesses.

Since it initially launched in 2011, the Innovation Portal has become a highly valued collaboration tool that today is used by more than 23,000 individuals, predominantly high school and undergraduate students in the fields of engineering, technology, biomedicine, and other sciences. It follows the Engineering Design Process and features a standardized, research- based rubric. Students use the rubric as a blueprint to define their problem and solution with supporting evidence, and to present their entire project professionally. Teachers and reviewers can use the rubric to score each of the students' work across pre-defined elements.

PLTW, with support from Chevron, has completed several infrastructure enhancements to allow the Portal to meet the needs of a growing online user base. Network enhancements include adding five servers to handle up to 200 concurrent sessions per second. Beta testing of the new system has shown online uploads of project work up to 30 times faster than before.

The new Portal now has a modular design, allowing PLTW to more easily administer and add programming enhancements. The new Portal also features an improved design for user experience. A new drag-and-drop editor allows students to lay out their portfolio any way they want. They can embed video, drop in images, and organize their presentation in the most dynamic way possible.

“The Innovation Portal has sparked amazing collaboration among students, mentors, and universities since its inception. We have taken user feedback and have made this tool even more robust and easier to use,” says Dr. Anne Jones, senior vice president and chief program officer, PLTW. “As more students and universities tap into the power of the Innovation Portal, we believe it will be a bridge for students to showcase their STEM work and grow their knowledge, and for universities to find and cultivate the next generation of STEM leaders.”

“Chevron is proud to support the Innovation Portal – it’s an investment in tomorrow’s innovators,” adds Blair Blackwell, manager, Education and Corporate Programs at Chevron. “We can’t wait to see what these students create.”

As of October 2014, the Portal houses more than 12,000 portfolios, which document projects addressing problems as diverse as improved radiation shielding for space vehicles, design of a forklift warning system to avoid tip-overs, enhanced medical rehabilitation devices, or how to best deliver wedding cakes.

The Portal is used in conjunction with PLTW’s capstone course, Engineering Design and Development, and also has simplified how organizations run STEM-related competitions across geographies.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) along with sponsor Rockwell Automation recently used the Portal to judge 19 student portfolios submitted by high school students across the state enrolled in PLTW’s EDD course. The winning projects are now being evaluated for commercial viability by the state’s Small Business Development Center.

“We have found the caliber of work by student teams to be remarkably high,” notes Patricia Deibert, associate director, PLTW Biomedical Science at MSOE, explaining that the Portal has allowed a rich exchange between the students and industry professionals, who can guide and mentor them. “The Portal also allows students in rural communities the ability to connect to practicing professionals beyond their locale.”

Nancy Schlick, Ph.D., an engineer and adjunct assistant professor at MSOE who served as a judge in the competition, adds, “The Portal helps students effectively and concisely communicate details of an engineering design project. It also introduces them to a standard format of communication. The problem solving and communication skills gained through the PLTW curriculum and use of the Portal will benefit students in college.”

During the 2014 PLTW Summit, attendees had the opportunity to learn more about the Innovation Portal, receive training on the platform, and provide feedback to the developers.

About PLTW

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate partners, help students develop the skills needed to succeed in our global economy. More than 6,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are currently offering PLTW courses to their students. For more information, visit www.pltw.org.

About the Innovation Portal

Developed by the nation’s leading STEM educators, the Innovation Portal is a free, open, and secure tool or all K-16 students, teachers, and project mentors. It highlights the importance of the Design Process in STEM education while applying a standardized, research-based rubric to guide and evaluate each student’s work.

Since the Innovation Portal opened to the public in 2011, more than 23,000 users have been involved in creating more than 12,000 portfolios. Companies such as Verizon and organizations such as the National Homeland Defense Foundation have hosted engineering design competitions on the Innovation Portal, recognizing it as an effective and convenient way to solicit entries and evaluate submissions. Other uses include evaluating portfolios for feedback and mentoring, college admission consideration, scholarship opportunities, or internship opportunities. Project Lead The developed the portal with support from Chevron, the Kern Family Foundation, the University of Maryland- College Park, and the National Science Foundation. For more information, visit www.InnovationPortal.org.

 

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