Program to lead way for Morton Grove students to tech careers
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:02AM
MORTON GROVE — Middle-school students in Park View Elementary School District 70 will get a taste of what careers in technology might be like under the district’s new Project Lead the Way program.
The program will be phased in over three years, with sixth-graders starting during the coming school year. Seventh and eighth grade will be added during the next two years, Superintendent Gary Zabilka said.
“This will steer them toward science and technology professions,” Zabilka said. “This will prepare them for what they will do at the high school.”
Niles Township High School District 219 uses the high-school version of the program, he said.
Project Lead the Way is a national program with a project-based curriculum “designed to challenge and engage the natural curiosity and imagination of middle school students,” according to the program website. “They envision, design and test their ideas with the same advanced modeling software used by companies like Lockheed Martin, Intel and Sprint.”
Students are exposed to such things as robotics and animation. They also explore the importance of energy, including ways to reduce, conserve and produce it using solar, thermal and wind power.
The total program is divided into six nine-week units.
Zabilka said the program at Park View will be offered as an Encore program, a nine-week class that will eventually be taken by all sixth-, and seventh- and eighth-grade students.
The program will require the purchase of new computers, as well as some furniture, Zabilka said. But, he noted, the district normally purchases some new technology equipment each year, anyway.
“It will become part of our Encore program,” he said.
Basic units of the program include automation and robotics, and design and modeling.
In the first unit students use a robotics platform to design, build and program a robotic device.
In design-and-modeling they are introduced to and use the design process to solve problems.
Students use industry-standard 3D-modeling software to create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their work.
Other specialized units beyond those basic ones also are available, including Energy and the Environment, Flight and Space, Green Architecture, Magic of Electrons and Science of Technology.