Project Lead the Way 2018-06-19T03:56:45-05:00
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It feels a lot like fun and games, but at St. Mark’s it’s about critical thinking.

What if there was a class where curiosity ruled? Where students learned not only how things worked, but how they might make them work better? Where the biggest challenge was between the students and their imagination?

What if that classroom was filled with the latest design software, advanced materials and cutting-edge equipment – a place buzzing with project-based assignments like programming robots, exploring nanotechnology and building 3-D models?

And while the students were exploring, examining and experimenting, they were actually building a foundation in the most vital fields of learning and essential professions needed in the world today and tomorrow?

Educators call this environment STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students at St. Mark’s have a class where they experience an exciting approach to education that fuels their imaginative thinking and creative problem-solving – just the skills they need to succeed in in their education and beyond.

At St. Mark’s, students in our Project Lead The Way (PLTW) learn a lot and have a lot of fun doing it in the Innovation Zone.

Gateway to Technology: Engineering

The PLTW Gateway to Technology Program is taught in conjunction with a rigorous academic curriculum. The hands-on, project-based program is divided into six independent, nine-week units.

Students envision, design and test their ideas with the same advanced modeling software used by companies like Lockheed Martin, Intel and Sprint. They study mechanical and computer control systems. Think robotics and animation.

PLTW students also explore the importance of energy, including innovative ways to reduce, conserve and produce it using solar, thermal and wind power. The knowledge they gain and the skills they build from the Gateway to Technology Program create a strong foundation for further STEM learning, from nanotechnology to applied engineering.

A STEM program that’s a proven pathway to the future

Uses solid-modeling software (a sophisticated, mathematical technique for representing solid objects) as part of the design process, St. Mark’s students understand how design influences their lives. Students also learn sketching techniques and use descriptive geometry as a component of design, measurement and computer modeling. Students brainstorm, research, develop ideas, create models, test and evaluate design ideas, and communicate solutions.
Students trace the history, development and influence of automation and robotics. They learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. St. Mark’s students acquire knowledge and skills in problem solving, teamwork, collaboration, and innovation.
Students design and model alternative energy sources; later, they participate in energy fairs to demonstrate energy concepts and innovative ideas.
Students study the history of aerospace through hands-on activities, research and a presentation in the form of an infomercial. They explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build, and test a model glider. Simulation software exposes St. Mark’s students to traveling and living in space.
St. Mark’s students trace how science has affected technology throughout history and learn about applied physics, chemical engineering, and nanotechnology through exploratory activities and projects.
Through hands-on projects, St. Mark’s students explore the science of electricity, the behavior and parts of atoms, circuit design, and sensing devices. They acquire knowledge and skills in basic circuitry design and explore the impact of electricity on our lives.


PLTW teachers and school counselors can access a nationwide support network comprised of PLTW’s national staff, master teachers, university affiliates, corporate and philanthropic sponsors, and state leaders (education professionals employed by state departments of education).

PLTW has approximately 51 affiliate colleges and university partners that offer students college-level recognition, such as college credit, admissions preference, and scholarships for completing certain PLTW courses in high school. These universities also provide PLTW’s intensive Core Training professional development program during the summer that teachers are required to complete before teaching a PLTW course.

PLTW’s corporate and foundation partners and STEM associations and organizations offer materials, mentorships, technology, equipment, grants, as well as internships that allow students to see firsthand how their classroom learning applies to the real world.


The activities-, project-, and problem-based (APPB) learning approach in PLTW centers on hands-on, real-world projects. They help students understand how the information and skills they are learning in the classroom may be applied in everyday life.

PLTW’s programs are comprehensive and turnkey. The standards-based curriculum is aligned with both Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, and yet flexible enough that schools and school districts can meet curricular needs. PLTW offers three different programs:

  • Gateway to Technology: Gateway To Technology (GTT) is intended for grades 6-8 and is offered as independent, nine-week units that explore aerospace, energy, the environment, modeling, robotics, technology, and other STEM-related topics. The activities-oriented curriculum challenges and engages the natural curiosity of students.GTT units, taught in conjunction with a rigorous academic curriculum, are designed to spark an interest in STEM subjects and prepare students for further study in high school. GTT is a natural lead in to PLTW’s Pathway to Engineering and Biomedical Sciences programs.
  • Pathway to Engineering: Pathway To Engineering (PTE) is intended for grades 9- 12. It explores the design process and links STEM principles to relevant problem-solving activities. Courses complement traditional mathematics and science courses and can serve as the foundation for STEM-centered or specialized academies. PTE is designed to prepare students to pursue a post-secondary education and careers in STEM-related fields.
  • PLTW Launch: In the 2014 academic year, St. Mark’s introduced the PLTW Launch in the Lower School. The program captures students’ interest in math and science for students in Kindergarten through Grade 5. Students use touch technology, robotics, and simple materials to learn the science behind energy, light and sound, motion and stability, and gravity.

PLTW Launch encourages collaboration, analysis, problem solving, and computational thinking. Students finish elementary school with a passion for and confidence in science, technology, engineering and math subjects. They are prepared to study these subjects in our Middle School and higher grades.

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