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PLTW Gateway (6-8)

Engaging. Exciting. Empowering.

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PLTW Gateway Sparks Engagement and Illuminates Possibilities

Middle school is a time of exploration, a time when students are figuring out what they’re passionate about today and how that relates to who they’ll become tomorrow.

During this transitional time, PLTW Gateway’s 10 units empower students to lead their own discovery. The hands-on program boosts classroom engagement and excitement, drives collaboration, and inspires “aha! moments” and deep comprehension. And as students engage in PLTW’s activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, they see a range of paths and possibilities they can look forward to in high school and beyond.

To ensure that the more than 5 million Spanish-speaking students in the U.S. have access to this transformative learning experience, we offer all PLTW Gateway units and teacher resources in both English and Spanish.

PLTW has made me think of goals that I never would have even thought of in the first place, and given me the confidence to pursue them.

- Madeline Pasche, PLTW Gateway Student Hudson Middle School | Hudson, Wisconsin

The kids are constantly working, they’re engaged, they’re happy. They spend a lot of extra time willingly. They come in on Saturdays to do their work. They're very proud of what they do.

- Mark McLaughlin, Vice Principal Stauffer Middle School | Downey, California

If you have the opportunity to go to a Core Training, you need to do it. You need to run and sign up. You need to put your growth mindset on and understand that it's a transformational curriculum. It's a transformational experience for the way you teach. You're going to empower your students to solve their own problems, figure out ways to approach issues that might need to be out of the box. And you will walk away with an amazing experience, and the support system you will come away with is rock solid. You will have amazing friends and your Master Teachers. I haven't met anyone at all within the Project Lead The Way network who does not have the best interest of new teachers front and center.

- Beth Fox, PLTW Gateway Master Teacher William Lenoir Middle School | Lenoir, North Carolina

As a teacher, I’m always more concerned with teaching students how to think than what to think. In PLTW, we don’t supply students with clear answers – we only give them problems to solve along with the tools needed to discover creative, workable solutions. In addition, the PLTW curriculum becomes a means for students to aspire to accomplish great things in our world for the good of others. When you tap into that instinct in kids – helping others in need – it not only makes teaching more meaningful, but also helps them see beyond mere content, giving them insight into how they can make a real difference in today’s world.

- Jason R. Williams, PLTW Gateway Teacher Fall Creek Valley Middle School | Indianapolis, Indiana

My students are learning more than just how to build and design. They are learning how to communicate, negotiate, compromise, and think critically. They’re using math and don’t even know it. My students are having fun learning and enjoy coming to class. The class challenges them, but in a good way. They struggle, yet work together to overcome the challenge. I love this class, and so do my students.

- Alexandria Vaughn, PLTW Gateway Teacher 'Ewa Makai Middle School | 'Ewa Beach, Hawaii

My Project Lead The Way classes are different from other classes. They focus on our thought process, and they focus on us being creative. They really encourage us to express ourselves. ... It's really fun to go to class every day; I look forward to it.

- Belle Blakey, PLTW Gateway Student Hudson Middle School | Hudson, Wisconsin

Building a Strong Foundation for High School, College, and Career

Each PLTW Gateway unit engages students in activities that not only build knowledge and skills in areas including computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, but also empower students to develop essential skills such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and perseverance.

Design and Modeling

Students discover the design process and develop an understanding of the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They are then challenged and empowered to use and apply what they’ve learned throughout the unit to design a therapeutic toy for a child who has cerebral palsy.

Automation and Robotics

Students learn about the history and impact of automation and robotics as they explore mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Using the VEX Robotics® platform, students apply what they know to design and program traffic lights, robotic arms, and more.

App Creators

This unit will expose students to computer science as a means of computationally analyzing and developing solutions to authentic problems through mobile app development, and will convey the positive impact of the application of computer science to other disciplines and to society.

Computer Science for Innovators and Makers

Throughout the unit, students will learn about programming for the physical world by blending hardware design and software development, allowing students to discover computer science concepts and skills by creating personally relevant, tangible, and shareable projects.

Energy and the Environment

Students are challenged to think big and toward the future as they explore sustainable solutions to our energy needs and investigate the impact of energy on our lives and the world. They use what they’ve learned to design and model alternative energy sources, as well as evaluate options for reducing energy consumption.

Flight and Space

The exciting world of aerospace comes alive through the Flight and Space (FS) unit. Students become engineers as they design, prototype, and test models to learn about the science of flight and what it takes to travel and live in space. They solve real-world aviation and space challenges and plan a mission to Mars.

Science of Technology

Science impacts the technology of yesterday, today, and the future. In this unit, students apply the concepts of physics, chemistry, and nanotechnology to activities and projects, including making ice cream, cleaning up an oil spill, and discovering the properties of nano-materials.

Magic of Electrons

In this unit, students examine the behavior and parts of atoms as well as the impact of electricity on the world around them. They learn skills in basic circuitry design and use what they know to propose designs such as a burglar alarm for an art museum.

Green Architecture

In this unit, students learn how to apply green concepts to the fields of architecture and construction. They explore dimensioning, measuring, and architectural sustainability and apply what they have learned to design affordable housing units using Autodesk’s® 3D architectural design software.

Medical Detectives

Students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they collect and analyze medical data to diagnose disease. They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, measure and interpret vital signs, examine nervous system structure and function, investigate disease outbreaks, and explore how a breakdown within the human body can lead to dysfunction.

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Virtual Computer Labs Are Available!

PLTW, in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), has collaborated with SynchroNet, an AWS consulting partner, to virtualize software through Amazon’s AppStream 2.0 service. Software used in PLTW courses will now be accessible through virtual computer labs on laptops that did not previously meet the technology requirements. Non-Windows operating systems will require additional hardware to use USB devices featured in PLTW courses.

  • This service reduces dependency on physical computer labs so that you can maximize your time and continue to focus on providing the in-demand, transferable skills students need to thrive in our rapidly evolving world
  • AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed application and desktop streaming service where your IT team or AWS partner can centrally manage your desktop applications and securely deliver them to any computer.
  • With virtual computer labs through AppStream 2.0, schools will only pay for what their students and teachers use, and any optional implementation support.

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A Transformative Professional Development Experience Centered on Student and Teacher Success

PLTW Gateway Professional Development is a dynamic learning experience for teachers focused on robust and flexible instructional support, on-demand resources, and a close-knit community of collaboration with fellow educators.

PLTW Gateway teachers begin their professional development tracks by completing pre-requisite courses that introduce educators to PLTW and provide them with essential foundational knowledge.

Then, through PLTW Virtual Core Training, teachers are empowered to develop the skills and tools they need to inspire students. This training experience is focused on pedagogy and in-depth exploration of the PLTW Gateway units teachers will lead in their classrooms.

Following PLTW Virtual Core Training, PLTW teachers have access to ongoing learning opportunities that help them progress and flourish through continuing education.

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Student-Centered, Balanced Assessment

Our assessment experts collaborate with classroom teachers and apply industry best practices and methods to design, test, and implement assessments for our network of schools.

PLTW supports a balanced approach to assessment for all programs, integrating both formative and summative assessments that help teachers understand how students are progressing and inform instruction. Through a balanced assessment approach, assessment is an ongoing activity. Students demonstrate their knowledge throughout the course by completing activities, projects, and problems using a variety of assessment tools, such as performance rubrics and reflective questioning, to deepen and expand their knowledge and skills.

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