At Wednesday’s celebration of a STEM program’s successful first year at Trask Middle School, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce officials announced that the program, called Project Lead The Way, will continue there and expand to at least one other school in the next academic year. Commitment to fund the program for a three-year period came the chamber’s Cape Fear Future initiative.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a curriculum that incorporates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Since its implementation last fall for sixth graders at Trask Middle School, students have been participating in the program’s Gateway To Technology track designed to give students a solid foundation for further STEM learning in high school and beyond. According to the last year’s announcement from the chamber, GTT introduces students to such subjects as engineering, robotics, computer modeling and energy in an interactive way.
Feedback has been good, said the chamber’s president and CEO Connie Majure-Rhett.
“The Project Lead The Way program has been very well received in its first year at Trask,” she said in an email. “Chuck Leake, the PLTW teacher [at Trask], has told us that students are so enamored with the program that they ask to skip physical education classes and their lunch time to work on their robotics and modeling projects. They are very excited that the Chamber’s Cape Fear Future initiative will be funding the program again next year for the rising seventh graders so they can continue their coursework.”
Officials said that PLTW will expand to D.C. Virgo Middle School for the 2014-2015 academic year, and possibly to another middle school and perhaps even to an elementary school, if money is available and schools are committed to taking it on.
Cape Fear Future has spent more than $50,000 on PLTW’s first year at Trask, said Majure-Rhett in a telephone interview Wednesday. She anticipates that Cape Fear Future will spend another $8,000 to $10,000 for next year’s seventh graders. She said at this point she can’t estimate funding requirements for the third year.
Meanwhile, the New Hanover County Schools will pick up the tab to continue the program for next year’s sixth graders at Trask, she said, adding that she is not aware that funding has been definitely secured to expand PLTW to D.C. Virgo.