Project Lead the Way in CHS


Rayner Reinhardt and Katie thor Straten

New this year, CHS is introducing an elective course for students of the class of 2018 and 2019. This national program, called Project Lead the Way, is an engineering program that gives students the opportunity to master STEM skills through problem solving and creativity.

PLTW focuses on recruiting the “next generation of STEM innovators,” and introducing them to the world of possibilities in the field of tech education.

“It’s very interactive and informative…it’s one of my favorite classes. The course provides different opportunities in STEM especially,” freshman Erin Kreis said.

Students at CHS are excited for the debut of the course.

“It’s going to be fun to make our own creations,”  freshman Peter Juenst explained.

In the second week of school, the course was already off to an educational start. The students created a boat out of straws, plastic wrap and masking tape.

The point of this experiment was ultimately to design a boat that floated on water, which the students tested after they created their boats. They also got the opportunity to build bridges out of paper.

“We have to do mock designs and present them to the class, kind of like a sales pitch,” Kreis said.

Every week the program focuses the students on one small hands-on project and towards the end of the year they may get the opportunity to work with the power tools to create other inventions.

Students were selected for the program based on applications submitted last spring.

PLTW is a national program that reaches out to over 8,000 schools. Dr. Vince Bertram, CEO of PLTW, works with the curriculum designers, engagement team and is head of the program and senior leadership teams. The program is designed to help students in the future, not just to have them learn the curriculum. Bertram described the course as  “a transformational experience for students.”

“I want our students to be involved and have inspiring experiences so they can understand how important math and science are and to develop skills that are in high demand, and also to understand how much science is relevant to the real world,” Bertram said.

“They’re encouraged to pursue either STEM pathways after high school or to at least understand the skills of problem solving of incredible difficulty and [also to gain] collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills that are in high demand in the marketplace.”

PLTW is also a very interactive program. The course is interactive for the students, but also the program itself is interactive.

“I go out to a lot of teacher trainings in the summer and there is a number of schools I go to during the year. Any moment that I have… it is really important for me to stay connected so I know how the program is working and the students’ experience and for us. That’s the most important aspect of what we do,” Bertram said.

Students in PLTW are in a STEM program that will benefit them in their school career and even outside of school.

“PLTW is focused not around learning about physics in order to create a pulley. It’s not about learning about air and gravity to make an airplane. But, by the end of the year you get to choose what you want to do and this is what makes it such a great course,” Juengst explained.