Project Lead the Way

Inspire Your Science Students in New Ways

Through PLTW’s K-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, students learn problem-solving strategies, critical and creative thinking, and how to communicate and collaborate. They apply knowledge from a variety of disciplines as they engage in hands-on activities, projects, and problems reflective of real-world scenarios and careers.

Sanford Research partnered with PLTW in 2013 as a biomedical affiliate to promote STEM education across the Northern Plains.

PLTW’s programs include:

PLTW curriculum is developed by a talented team of writers, a majority of whom are former teachers or administrators. We seek ongoing input and feedback from students, teachers, administrators, and subject matter experts. Our work is also informed by current research and experts in academics and industry to ensure that it meets the needs of students and educators.

The Case for STEM
STEM knowledge and skills are used in many more occupations than those traditionally thought of as science and engineering.

  • In 2010, about 5 million U.S. workers were officially classified as having a science and engineering occupation.
  • Yet an estimated 16.5 million college-educated individuals reported that their job required at least a bachelor’s degree level of science and engineering training.
  • According to one report, there may be as many as 26 million jobs in the United States that require significant STEM knowledge and skill in at least one field. This represents nearly 20% of all U.S. jobs. (Revisiting the STEM Workforce: A Companion to Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. Arlington, Virginia: the National Science Board (NSB), 2015)
  • There is a lack of diversity among women and minority students in STEM focused studies and careers. 
  • Women constitute 48 percent of the U.S. workforce but hold just 24 percent of the U.S. jobs in STEM. 
  • Only 1 in 10 STEM professionals is a minority woman. PLTW’s programs aim to engage all students – as early as pre-kindergarten – in STEM subjects and introduce them to the wide range of opportunities and careers in these fields.

More than 8,000 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs.

More than 1 million students are enrolled in PLTW programs.

In 2015, PLTW trained more than 10,000 teachers and has trained more than 29,000 teachers since 1997.

FAQ for Students

Can I get college credit or scholarships for PLTW courses?

PLTW students have exclusive access to a variety of recognition opportunities including scholarships, preferred admission at colleges and universities, internships, industry connections, and other avenues to highlight their achievements.

College/university opportunities: Colleges and universities across the U.S. recognize and reward PLTW students for their great work. These postsecondary institutions recognize PLTW students with scholarships, admissions preference, course credit, and more.

STEM Premier: PLTW students receive complimentary access to this online social platform, which empowers them to build out their personal STEM profile, showcase their knowledge and skills, and seek out opportunities.

AP + PLTW: AP + PLTW gives students the opportunity to earn a credential that showcases their readiness for college and career, and demonstrates their STEM skills and interests to colleges and employers. The program will also provide students with special access to career-oriented opportunities like internships and scholarships.

How do I find out if my school district offers PLTW?

Contact the administrative offices of your school district for the most accurate information. Currently, PLTW is offered at 15 middle and high schools across 11 school districts in South Dakota.

Why should I consider the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program?

The Biomedical Sciences (BMS) program provides students with an understanding of the role of the biomedical sciences in the modern world and prepares them for careers in the rapidly growing biomedical sciences field.

The four BMS courses present a broad foundation in science and healthcare and include specialized knowledge in such areas as: molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, anatomy, and public health.

Students also gain an awareness of the social, legal, and ethical issues surrounding technological advances related to the biomedical sciences. While the coursework is intentionally rigorous with an emphasis on scientific principles and medical research, the students are exposed to key concepts that will transfer to many fields. Students who complete the Biomedical Sciences courses will graduate being able to do the following:

  • Communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Think critically.
  • Practice professional conduct.
  • Work effectively in teams.
  • Understand how medical and scientific research is conducted and funded.
  • Understand the interdisciplinary nature of science, health care, mathematics and language arts.

The PLTW Biomedical Sciences program uses a combination of activity-, project-, and problem-based learning styles to engage students as they learn to solve problems, participate as part of a team, lead teams, conduct research, analyze data, and learn through fieldwork.

Do I need to take all the Biomedical Sciences courses?

While the courses are sequential, there is no predetermined number of courses which need to be completed. However, college recognition and scholarship opportunities may require a minimal number of completed courses.

What are the PLTW Biomedical Sciences courses?

The rigorous and relevant four-course PLTW Biomedical Science sequence allows students to investigate the roles of biomedical professionals as they study the concepts of human medicine, physiology, genetics, microbiology, and public health.

Students engage in activities like investigating the death of a fictional person, learning content in the context of real-world cases. They examine the structures and interactions of human body systems and explore the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, all while working collaboratively to understand and design solutions to the most pressing health challenges of today and the future. Each course in the Biomedical Science sequence builds on the skills and knowledge students gain in the preceding courses.

Principles of Biomedical Science: Students investigate the human body systems and various health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, sickle-cell disease, hypercholesterolemia, and infectious diseases. They determine the factors that led to the death of a fictional person, and investigate lifestyle choices and medical treatments that might have prolonged the person's life. The activities and projects introduce students to human physiology, medicine, research processes and bioinformatics. This course is designed to provide an overview of all the courses in the Biomedical Sciences program and lay the scientific foundation for subsequent courses.

Human Body Systems: Students examine the interactions of body systems as they explore identity, communication, power, movement, protection and homeostasis. Students design data acquisition software to monitor body functions such as muscle movement, reflex and voluntary action, and respiration. Exploring science in action, students build organs and tissues on a skeletal manikin, work through interesting real world cases and often play the role of biomedical professionals to solve medical mysteries.

Medical Interventions: Students investigate the variety of interventions involved in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease as they follow the lives of a fictitious family. The course is a "How-To" manual for maintaining overall health and homeostasis in the body as students explore: how to prevent and fight infection; how to screen and evaluate the code in human DNA; how to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer; and how to prevail when the organs of the body begin to fail. Through these scenarios, students are exposed to the wide range of interventions related to immunology, surgery, genetics, pharmacology, medical devices and diagnostics. Lifestyle choices and preventive measures are emphasized throughout the course as well as the important roles scientific thinking and engineering design play in the development of interventions of the future.

Biomedical Innovation: In this capstone course, students apply their knowledge and skills to answer questions or solve problems related to the biomedical sciences. Students design innovative solutions for the health challenges of the 21st century as they work through progressively challenging open-ended problems, addressing topics such as clinical medicine, physiology, biomedical engineering, and public health. They have the opportunity to work on an independent project and may work with a mentor or adviser from a university, hospital, physician's office, or industry. Throughout the course, students are expected to present their work to an adult audience that may include representatives from the local business and health care community.

FAQ for Teachers

What is Core Training?

Core Training immerses teachers in a hands-on, collaborative learning environment that challenges them to look at their classrooms in a new way. Teachers take on the role of a student, engage in in-depth exploration of PLTW coursework, and gain invaluable experience to take back to their classrooms.

Core Training helps teachers build skills and confidence around activity-, project-, and problem-based (APB) learning; prepares educators to become facilitators and coaches; and empowers them to bring learning to life through their PLTW program. Trainings are offered on-site or online across the U.S.

What can I expect at Core Training?

Training for high school programs is an 80-hour instruction session covered over a two-week period. Core Training is led by experienced PLTW instructors who will track participants’ course portfolios of activities, projects and problems to make sure they are prepared to teach.

The accelerated, rigorous and diversified nature of Core Training can overwhelm some participants, compromising their ability to successfully complete the necessary workload.

To ensure that participants stay on task during Core Training during the collaborative work process, we strongly suggest that participants reside in the recommended hotel lodging and take advantage of the focused environment free from distraction. Aside from instructional time, participants should plan to spend time on homework every night, as well as over the weekend.

Can I earn credits for PLTW courses?

Teachers who are registered for a PLTW Core Training course are eligible to register for the companion three-credit graduate course at the University of South Dakota (USD). In addition to the 80 hours of classroom and laboratory instruction, teachers will complete a written capstone assignment.

The course may be taken as a graduate-level education or science elective. Total tuition and fees are $120 and registration will be performed on-site before the Friday of the first week of training. Capstone assignments are due to the course instructor two weeks after training completion.

PLTW Principles of Biomedical Sciences
3 credits, Summer; Dr. Peter Vitiello & Ms. Liz McMillan
This course allows teachers to learn, analyze, and evaluate the projected and actual impact of Project Lead The Way (PLTW) activities, projects, and problems on teaching and learning strategies used in the Principles of Biomedical Sciences (PBS) classroom and laboratory. The PBS course investigates human body systems and various health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, sickle-cell disease, hypercholesterolemia, and infectious diseases with curricular activities and projects relevant for human physiology, medicine, research processes and bioinformatics. Requirements include a mastery of all course units and completion of a comprehensive written capstone assignment addressing strategies for implementing and assessing the student component of the PBS curriculum.

Requirement: Completion of Core Training certification for Principles of Biomedical Sciences course.

PLTW Human Body Systems
3 credits, Summer; Dr. Peter Vitiello & Ms. Liz McMillan
This course allows teachers to learn, analyze, and evaluate the projected and actual impact of Project Lead The Way activities, projects, and problems on teaching and learning strategies used in the Human Body Systems (HBS) classroom and laboratory. The HBS course examines interactions of body systems as students explore identity, communication, power, movement, protection and homeostasis through projects including organs and tissues on a skeletal manikin, work through interesting real world cases and often play the role of biomedical professionals to solve medical mysteries. Requirements include a mastery of all course units and completion of a comprehensive written capstone assignment addressing strategies for implementing and assessing the student component of the HBS curriculum.

Requirement: Completion of Core Training certification for Human Body Systems course.

Can I get grants for PLTW programs?

We collaborate with leading organizations across the U.S. to create funding opportunities that support the work you’re doing each day to empower students to thrive.

The PLTW Grant Program, made possible through generous philanthropic gifts from our partners, helps districts and schools across the country start new PLTW programs and expand their existing programs.

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