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Project Lead the Way

STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

Bill Murphy
Coordinator of STEM for Union Public Schools 


Project Lead The Way or PLTW offers a different approach to learning and teaching. Through activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum, PLTW gives students in kindergarten through high school a chance to apply what they know, identify problems, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning. For teachers, our engaging, rigorous professional development model provides tools to empower students and transform the classroom into a collaboration space where content comes to life.

PLTW curricular programs include PLTW Launch, PLTW Gateway, PLTW Engineering, PLTW Biomedical Science, and PLTW Computer Science.


Engaging elementary students at a young age builds confidence, grows interest, and puts them on course for strong accomplishments in middle school, high school, and beyond.

Through PLTW Launch, our program for kindergarten through fifth grade, students become problem solvers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process, and employ critical thinking. They apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, learning that it is OK to take risks and make mistakes. As teachers and students learn and discover together, education becomes far more engaging. We designed PLTW Launch to offer maximum flexibility and work in a variety of settings and scenarios, which means we have an implementation model that will work for your school or organization.

Union’s Current Launch sites:  Darnaby, Moore, Cedar Ridge

Gateway To Technology (GTT)

Middle school is the perfect time for students to explore and learn that there is more than one way to reach a solution. PLTW Gateway provides engineering and biomedical science curriculum for middle school students that challenges, inspires, and offers schools variety and flexibility. Students get rigorous and relevant experiences through activity-, project-, and problem-based learning. They use industry-leading technology to solve problems while gaining skills in communication, collaboration, critical-thinking, and creativity.

Union’s current offerings:

  • 6th Grade
    Magic of Electrons (ME) - Through hands-on projects, students explore electricity, the behavior and parts of atoms, and sensing devices. They learn knowledge and skills in basic circuitry design, and examine the impact of electricity on the world around them.
  • 7th Grade
    Design and Modeling (DM) - Students apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They work in teams to design a playground and furniture, capturing research and ideas in their engineering notebooks. Using Autodesk® design software, students create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their innovative solutions.
  • 8th Grade
    Design & Modeling (DM) - Students apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They work in teams to design a playground and furniture, capturing research and ideas in their engineering notebooks. Using Autodesk® design software, students create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their innovative solutions.
    Automation and Robotics (AR) - Students trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students use the VEX Robotics® platform to design, build, and program real-world objects such as traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms.
    Medical Detectives (MD) - 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.



PLTW Engineering is more than just another high school engineering program. It is about applying engineering, science, math, and technology to solve complex, open-ended problems in a real-world context. Students focus on the process of defining and solving a problem, not on getting the "right" answer. They learn how to apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to make the world a better place through innovation.

PLTW students have said that PLTW Engineering influenced their post-secondary decisions and helped shape their future. Even for students who do not plan to pursue engineering after high school, the PLTW Engineering program provides opportunities to develop highly transferable skills in collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, which are relevant for any coursework or career.

Union’s Current Offerings:

  • 9th Grade
    Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) - Students dig deep into the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects. They work both individually and in teams to design solutions to a variety of problems using 3D modeling software, and use an engineering notebook to document their work.
  • 10th & 12th Grade
    Principles of Engineering (POE) - Through problems that engage and challenge, students explore a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, and automation. Students develop skills in problem solving, research, and design while learning strategies for design process documentation, collaboration, and presentation.

Biomedical Sciences

From the moment students walk into the classroom, they are immersed in the mysterious death of Anna and asked to investigate, document, and analyze evidence to solve the case. Case-based scenarios like this one span all PLTW Biomedical Science courses. Students explore a range of careers in biomedical sciences as they learn content in the context of real-world, hands-on activities, projects, and problems.

Union’s Current Offerings:

  • 9th Grade
    Principles of Biomedical Science (PBS) - In the introductory course of the PLTW Biomedical Science program, students explore concepts of biology and medicine to determine factors that led to the death of a fictional person. While investigating the case, students examine autopsy reports, investigate medical history, and explore medical treatments that might have prolonged the person’s life. The activities and projects introduce students to human physiology, basic biology, medicine, and research processes while allowing them to design their own experiments to solve problems.
  • 11th Grade
    Medical Interventions (MI) - Students follow the life of a fictitious family as they investigate how to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. Students explore how to detect and fight infection; screen and evaluate the code in human DNA; evaluate cancer treatment options; and prevail when the organs of the body begin to fail. Through real-world cases, students are exposed to a range of interventions related to immunology, surgery, genetics, pharmacology, medical devices, and diagnostics.

Computer Science

The imperative to increase our national talent pool in computer science and software engineering is clear. In fact, the number of job openings projected in 2018 for STEM fields will reach 2.8 million, and approximately half of these will be for computer specialists. To build student interest and engagement in computer science, and prepare more students for great career opportunities that require computational thinking, PLTW is launching a four-year computer science pathway for high school students.

The pilot for our first computer science course – PLTW Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSE) – is currently underway in more than 60 high schools across the U.S. We believe that this course is extremely valuable for every student, regardless of his or her career choice, because knowledge of computer science is increasingly vital for any career. Also, we believe that there is compelling evidence to offer students a four-year, in-depth program of study in computer science, as we have with engineering and biomedical sciences. 

Union’s Current Offerings:

  • K – 6th Grade
    In an after-school setting, students use curriculum to explore the world of computer science, make friends, and have fun!  (Availability at Elementary varies by site.)
  • 7th Grade
    Computer Science
    (not PLTW related) – Students use various software platforms and hands-on activities to practice problem solving skills and learn basic computer coding tools.  They research different computer science careers and begin to ‘think’ like a computer.
  • 8th & 9th Grade
    RAO Computer Science
    (not PLTW related) – Students participate in a 5-week course using the CS First curriculum from Google.  They use the drag-and-drop interface Scratch to enhance their problem solving skills and coding best-practices.
  • 9th-11th Grade
    Computer Science and Software Engineering
    (CSE) - CSE implements the College Board’s 2013 CS Principles framework. Using Python® as a primary tool and incorporating multiple platforms and languages for computation, this course aims to develop computational thinking, generate excitement about career paths that utilize computing, and introduce professional tools that foster creativity and collaboration. This course can be a student's first course in computer science, although we encourage students without prior computing experience to start with Introduction to Computer Science. CSE helps students develop programming expertise and explore the workings of the Internet. Projects and problems include app development, visualization of data, cybersecurity, robotics, and simulation. The course aligns with CSTA 3B standards. Download detailed course outline.