Project Lead the Way: Introducing Students to STEM


Jersey Bilyeu

Jake Hemann helps a student during one of his classes.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) was founded in 1997 to promote STEM education in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the United States. PLTW offers a variety of classes at Kennedy, from engineering to computer science.

Students at Kennedy join PLTW for a unique experience in STEM, getting time to progress research and development skills in the classroom. The classes are based in hands-on, project-based learning. They offer space and resources for students to create something that interests them rather than following a traditional teaching style.

“Project Lead The Way is really unique,” freshman Camryn Meyer said. “I took the Intro to Engineering Design course, and it helped me figure out that I definitely want to do something based in engineering. It was a great class to take as a freshman while I’m still deciding what I want to do with my life.”

PLTW challenges students with real-world problems and encourages innovative thinking. According to the PLTW website, 92% of high school students believe PLTW furthered their interest in STEM and 70% reported PLTW aided in areas other than STEM.

“It was exciting for me to find a position teaching Project Lead The Way classes,” instructor Jake Hemann said. “I try to make it really fun—really project-based. It’s a pretty active class. We do a lot of activities, try and keep it moving.”

PLTW classes can be selected when registering for classes on Infinite Campus. They count as dual credit and prove to universities that students can handle higher-level STEM courses.

“Students get Kennedy and college credit, so it’s a dual credit class,” Hemann said. “They can even help you pass out of some basic college classes in most STEM majors. It’s a one-of-a-kind program and students really feel like they have a leg up in college after taking PLTW classes. It’s big picture.”