University of Montana is Newest PLTW Affiliate Partner

INDIANAPOLIS (May 6, 2014) – The University of Montana (UM) in Missoula has joined Project Lead The Way (PLTW) as its newest affiliate partner, a role that designates the University’s support for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and dedication to providing high-quality educational opportunities for students and teachers. PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs, with pathways in engineering, biomedical science and computer science for students in grades K-12.

“Project Lead The Way’s new partnership with University of Montana is a big win for PLTW schools throughout Montana and surrounding states,” said PLTW president and CEO Dr. Vince Bertram. “PLTW’s partnerships with top universities are vital in preparing students and teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the global economy, while also sending a market signal to our students and schools that STEM education is important for postsecondary education and careers.”

UM joins a cohort of approximately 50 other PLTW affiliate partners - colleges, universities, and research institutions - that provide support for PLTW and its network of over 5,000 schools in the United States. As an affiliate, the University will offer professional development training programs to PLTW teachers, host annual conferences for school administrators and counselors, and provide ongoing support to PLTW schools throughout the state of Montana. This summer, UM will offer teacher training for PLTW Launch, PLTW’s program for students in grades K-5, designed to engage and inspire a love of math and science for students at a young age. The University is one of the initial Launch affiliates, as this is the first year for PLTW affiliate partners to offer Launch training.

“We know that two variables are essential in increasing the number of students who consider a STEM major or career: math proficiency and student interest. We also know that the best time to nurture awareness and interest in STEM careers is in the early elementary years,” said Lisa Blank, University of Montana affiliate director for PLTW Launch. “The opportunity to partner with PLTW means UM will be a leader in providing K-5 teachers with quality STEM training and curriculum that advances student learning and interest in math, science, technology and engineering.”

UM also has plans to offer PLTW Biomedical Science training beginning in summer 2015. The Biomedical Science program for high school students is a hands-on, project-based sequence of four courses that allows students to study and investigate concepts of human medicine, physiology, genetics, microbiology and public health, learning content in the context of real-world cases. Students explore the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease; work collaboratively to understand and design solutions to the most pressing health challenges; and study the many diverse career opportunities in health sciences.

"The opportunity to partner with PLTW in advancing STEM education in the biomedical sciences provides a very exciting opportunity to connect the College's expertise and mission in the health sciences with high school science curricula,” said Dean David Forbes. “It will not only strengthen the pipeline for students to enter our College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, but also represents a long-term investment in improving health care in Montana."

While this is a new partnership between the University of Montana and PLTW, the University’s support of STEM education began several years ago. The PJW College of Education and Human Sciences sponsors an annual “Expanding Your Horizons Conference” for girls to explore STEM and recently constructed a lab to teach teachers and students about 3-D design and printing. All K-8 teacher candidates in the school receive robotics training. In the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, the Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program and the Big Sky Brain Project bring STEM education to underserved, rural communities in Montana.

About PLTW Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate partners, help students develop the skills needed to succeed in our global economy. More than 5,200 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 University of Montana Founded in 1893, the University of Montana is located at the heart of western Montana’s stunning natural landscape in Missoula. One-hundred twenty-one years later, UM still nurtures a tradition of cultural and scientific learning. The University pursues academic excellence and unique educational experiences through the integration of the liberal arts, the sciences, graduate study, and professional training with international and interdisciplinary emphases. UM is a magnet not only for top-notch educators and researchers but also for about 15,000 students from across the country and around the globe.

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