27 AAPS schools receive Project Lead The Way Distinguished School Award

The schools are among 404 PLTW Launch programs in the U.S. to receive the honor this year.

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

All 21 AAPS Elementary Schools, as well as six of its seven middle schools, have been recognized as 2019-2020 Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished Schools for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities in STEM for students through PLTW Launch & Gateway programs.

The PLTW Distinguished Schools recognition program honors districts and schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs, explained Tom Pachera, AAPS’ PLTW department head.

Angell students work in design teams to build vehicles with Vex Construction kits. 

“With over 25,000 school districts participating in PLTW Programs, our 21 elementary schools were among only 404 nationally recognized,” he said.  “Our six middle schools were among only 176 recognized for the 2019-2020 school year.”

PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves millions of PreK-12 students and teachers in more than 12,200 schools across the U.S.

Participating in PLTW encourages students to try innovative approaches to problem-solving without fearing failure, said Samantha Danziger, Angell Elementary and Bach Elementary PLTW lead teacher. 

“For each engineering design challenge, students experience first-hand that regardless of the final outcome, they will learn from the process of trying ideas and reflecting on their learning,” said Danziger.  “I also see high levels of care and collaboration between students in the PLTW classroom.”

She said that one of the most inspiring moments this year was during an in-house robotics competition when one team’s robot completely fell apart on the field and was no longer able to score points. 

“Instead of sticking to their original plan, the opposing team used their robot to push the broken one onto the scoring ramp so both teams could earn points,” she recalled.  “At the end of the competition, the driver of that robot said, `I learned that being successful is not just about building a good robot, it is even more about knowing how to work in a team.'”

Katie Kipp Dohm is the lead PLTW teacher at Dicken Elementary.

PLTW Gateway empowers students to lead their own discovery and uncover a range of paths and possibilities they can look forward to in high school and beyond.

The PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, schools had to meet the following criteria:

  • Offer at least one PLTW Gateway unit at each grade level; 
  • Have more than 50 percent of the student body participating during the 2018-19 school year; 
  • Have 25 percent of students advancing to high school participate in two or more units,
  • have strategies and supports in place that support reasonably proportional representation with regard to race, ethnicity, poverty, gender, and can support such claims with relevant data.

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