Monomoy Regional High School’s science, technology and engineering department is set to undergo changes that will allow students to take a deeper dive into the school’s engineering curriculum.
Project Lead The Way recently awarded the school a $44,000 grant for the engineering program. The national nonprofit organization creates engaging classroom environments while paving new pathways for students interested in computer science, engineering and biomedical science curricula.
“When I started looking to standardize my engineering courses at the school, I was able to see that Project Lead The Way might be a venue for us,” said Larry Souza, a technology and engineering instructor at MRHS. “What opened that up even further was that they were offering grants with a few sponsors that are connected with them to get these programs started.”
After applying for the grant, Souza was informed that Monomoy’s application was advancing to phase two of the application process. At that point, he collaborated with Marc Smith, the school’s director of curriculum, as well as principal Jennifer Police and assistant principal David Alexander.
“We worked very closely together to finish up the grant,” Souza said, “and after being pushed to phase two, we were rewarded a grant for around $44,500 I believe.”
The money will be distributed to the school over the span of three years and will cover the costs for the teacher training and the durable equipment that is needed needed to teach the Project Lead The Way curriculum, which is offered in more than 12,000 schools across the nation, according to the PLTW website.
Souza said he’s registered to begin training teachers in June. The school will begin the PLTW curriculum in September.
The curriculum offers basic engineering, engineering essentials, introduction to engineering and principles of engineering. It also has core classes including aerospace, civil engineering and architecture, computer integrated manufacturing, computer science, digital electronics, environmental sustainability, engineering and design development and even biomedical.
“There’s a lot of directions to go,” Souza said.
One aspect that has Souza especially thrilled to implement is that PLTW encourages students to participate in projects.
“I’m very, very exited to start the instruction to engineering course because we teach the engineering and design process, but Project Lead The Way is so project-focused,” he said. “I’ve created a lot of projects in the past which have taken a lot of work — now they’re going to be resourced.
“When you give a kid that ability to create and do a project, it really, really encourages the learning process and opens up so many more avenues for them.”
The long-term hope, according to Souza, is that the new curriculum will give MRHS students a taste of different engineering, science and computer science offerings and that will help them determine what concentration they would like to pursue as they go through high school.
“Instead of kid taking an elective here or there, we want them to be able to say, ‘I’m going to take this first elective, design and build, and learn about computer science, maybe some biomedical and maybe some engineering,’” Souza said. “Then the kid can say, ‘OK, well now I’m going to take the next engineering course or the next computer science course’ and develop a pathway that builds as they go through their five years at Monomoy Regional High School.”
Souza said the school’s STE department had offered a pretty robust internship program prior to COVID-19, and he’s hopeful that the introduction of the PLTW curriculum will help spark an excitement in the community that will lead to more opportunities for students in the future.
“What this provides is now we have something we’re going to follow and stick with,” he said. “That opens up a real program for kids who want to be involved in these types of careers. I think this will provide other venues for kids to do their internships.”
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