Visitors tour Project Lead The Way classrooms; get first-hand look at hands-on learning

Story, photo and video by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

When you’re proud of something, you’re happy to show it off. The AAPS PLTW Showcase held Friday at Wines, Forsythe, A2STEAM, Skyline, and Huron was an opportunity to do just that.

Dignitaries, PLTW representatives, and administrators and teachers from other Michigan school districts eager to offer PLTW at their own schools toured PLTW classrooms at Wines, Forsythe, A2STEAM, Skyline, and Huron to see first-hand what the excitement is about at AAPS.

All 32 schools in the district use Project Lead the Way to teach STEAM in grades K-12.
Project Lead the Way brings science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) alive in the classrooms, with collaboration between the classroom teacher and the PLTW teacher, explained Tom Pachera, who coordinates PLTW for the district.
PLTW is at every AAPS school, including (above) Wines Elementary.
Autum Barry, Director of Student School Engagement for PLTW in Ohio, said she was excited to spend the day touring AAPS touring PLTW in Ann Arbor Public Schools.
“It’s really exciting to see the opportunities they’re proving for students across the board in engaging in relevant, real-world curriculum in computer science, biomedical sciences, and engineering,” she said.
Bill Campbell, who teaches PLTW at both Skyline High School and Forsythe Middle School, was happy to give a tour of the Forsythe Design Lab, where he teaches classes in computers, robotics, energy & environment and more. “The best thing about Project Lead the Way is that it gives hands-on, real-world skills and a toolbox of programs and knowledge that they can use for work—like 3D modeling, computer programming, and just learning how to do basic logic,” he said. “Then we spend a lot of time talking about the engineering design process, which is just a step-by-step problem-solving tool just like the scientific method is, and it follows the same basic patterns as the scientific method. It’s what engineers use in the real world.”
Campbell said he wishes he could have learned such things back when he was in high school in the ’80s.
“We had woodshop and auto shop,” he said. “That was it.”
Avondale High School Assistant Principal Doug Wilson said he especially enjoyed talking to students in Skyline’s medical and business magnet programs.
“The very student-led aspect of it is impressive to us,” he said, “and the ownership they take and the pride they have in what they’ve been doing and what they’re invested in is phenomenal.”
The Design Lab at Forsythe Middle School is the setting for classes in computers, robotics, energy & environment, and more.
Students say they love PLTW’s hands-on approach.


Students in the medical magnet explain the enrollment process at Skyline.

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