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 range of paths and possibilities they can look forward to in high school and beyond. 

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.

Introduction to Computer Science 1

In this unit, students discover the principles of this fast-growing field. They develop computer science knowledge and skills by focusing on creativity and an iterative design process as they create their own basic apps using MIT App Inventor®.

Introduction to Computer Science 2

In ICS 2, students continue to explore the fundamentals of the stimulating career path of computer science. They venture into text-based programming through Python and develop an app to crowdsource and analyze data on a topic of their interest.

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 Flight and Space. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build, and test an airfoil.

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 analyze genetic testing results to diagnose disease and study DNA evidence found at a “crime scene.” They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, investigate how to measure and interpret vital signs, and learn how the systems of the human body work together to maintain health.

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. 

Educators begin their PLTW Professional Development journey with Readiness Training, an engaging online experience that introduces educators to PLTW and provides them with essential foundational knowledge. After successful completion of Readiness Training, teachers participate in 40 hours of Core Training, focused on pedagogy and in-depth exploration of the PLTW Gateway unit they’ll be leading in their classrooms. Finally, PLTW’s Ongoing Training helps teachers progress and flourish through online 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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