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THOMASVILLE The Thomas County School System is introducing teachers in grades kindergarten through eighth grade to a comprehensive approach to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education.

Teachers have become the students this week during professional development training for Project Lead The Way (PLTW)’s K 5 Launch curriculum and the PLTW Gateway Design Modeling unit for grades 6 8, both of which will be available districtwide this fall.

Project Lead The Way is the nation’s leading provider of STEM education providing a transformative learning experience for K 12 students and teachers by creating an engaging environment and empowering students to develop in demand knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an evolving world.

Jennifer Kruse, PLTW associate director of engagement, said, “The science, technology, engineering and math related fields are where the majority of our jobs will be when today’s students graduate from high school, go on to college and graduate from college. This week, the teachers are learning, first hand, everything that their students will experience during their PLTW courses.”

“It’s crucial to introduce STEM education in kindergarten and in the primary grades because it engages and excites students of all backgrounds, which is especially critical for girls and minority students,” said Kruse. “If we wait until middle school or high school, it’s too late. We want to get them interested at a younger age so when more courses become available to them in later grades, they will have the interest, knowledge, and confidence they need to take advantage of those courses and continue developing the in demand knowledge and transportable skills needed to thrive in our rapidly advancing world.”

Throughout the week, PLTW team members are training teachers from Thomas County’s elementary schools to teach PLTW Launch. This program for kindergartners through fifth graders teaches students how to become problem solvers by engaging their natural curiosity and using technology in creative ways. This week, teachers are taking on the student’s role, solving problems that are faced in the real world.

“This is new and will be implemented this upcoming school year,” said Keri Johnson, kindergarten teacher at Hand In Hand Primary School. “We are being trained and will go back to Hand In Hand and teach the others. It is the perfect time to teach these subjects in kindergarten because the students are curious by nature. Providing them hands on activities that requires them to inquire, create and to learn while using technology is a brilliant, amazing process.”

Johnson said the technology part usually comes easy to kindergartners, because they are now exposed at such a young age.

Johnson said, “Technology may come easy, but getting them to use their own mind and work collaboratively is the hard part for them. It’s amazing how they pick up on it so quickly because they are so eager to learn. wholesale nfl jerseys The Thomas County School System is providing such a good pathway for the students in these fields. It’s rewarding because it starts here with us providing them with everything they need to have a successful future. We want our graduates to be competitive in the workforce and have the skills they need to succeed.”

Also training this week are teachers from the middle school. They are learning the PLTW Gateway Design Modeling curriculum and how to develop and encourage students’ continued excitement in STEM.

PLTW Gateway is PLTW’s middle school program, designed to providea strong foundation for further STEM learning, challenging students to solve real worldproblems, such as cleaning oil spills and designing sustainable housing solutions. Using the same advanced software and tools as those used by the world’s leading companies, students will learn how to apply math, science, technology and engineering in their everyday lives.

Melanie Chavaux, associate superintendent of Thomas County Schools, said PLTW Core Training engages and excites teachers, and the energy follows them into their classrooms.

“We see teachers excited to go back to school and share these experiences with students,” Chavaux said. “When a teacher is excited about learning, students are, too.”

Chavaux said, “We have a focus in Thomas County on coding and computer science. We begin in kindergarten building the foundation, and as they progress from elementary to middle and on to high school, we are providing that pathway. When they reach high school, they have a strong foundation for advanced work in computer science and engineering.”

Thomas County’s program will incorporate skills in coding and programming into mathematics and science courses to foster application based, authentic learning opportunities for students.

“We are extremely excited and proud of the fact that we have the opportunity to bring this training not only to Thomas County Schools, but also to the Southwest Georgia area,” said Chavaux. Teachers from several surrounding school districts are participating in the training hosted by the Thomas County School System.

PLTW Launch was developed to work with current standards, and the curriculum includes 24 modules aligned to grade level standards. The 10 hour modules are presented in pairs that combine a thematic unit. Teachers and schools have the flexibility to introduce the modules they want, when they want, and at the grade level they want.

Two grant programs are working together to enhance this latest addition to Thomas County’s STEM education curriculum. The system received a PLTW implementation grant to fund teacher training, and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement awarded the system a $150,000 grant to fund additional teacher training, materials, and a full time elementary teaching position to support the program’s implementation.


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