The Windsor Central School District is enhancing its engineering curriculum for the 2017-18 school year. This comes one year after expanding Project Lead the Way, the District’s engineering pipeline, to all students K-12.
“A lot more engineering will be taught, about 40 percent more,” said PLTW teacher Eileen Mulcahy.
“The intent of starting in Kindergarten is to immerse all students early and often as they traverse up the grade levels. As they enter 9th grade, they will have a firm background in Science and engineering and be able to make an informed decision regarding related course work heading into high school,” said Scott Beattie, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction for the Windsor Central School District.
Changes this year include new subjects for first and second grade. Last year all students K-2 studied Introduction to Engineering. This year that will be limited to just Kindergarten students.
Activities within the Kindergarten engineering module revolve around structure and function. For example, Kindergarten students apply their understanding of these principles while developing their own houses to withstand the wind from the Big Bad Wolf. This lesson includes a small leaf blower with a wolf puppet head.
First graders will study Light and Sound while second graders will study Properties of Matter. Moving up the elementary grade levels, third graders will study Science and Flight, fourth graders Energy and fifth graders Robotics and Automation.
“It’s absolutely mind blowing the content and application our youngest learners are involved in. I had a third grader stop me in the cafeteria to ask my understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion. That hasn’t happened to me before,” said Beattie.
In middle school sixth graders will study Automation Robotics, something that was taught in eighth grade last year.
“We are taking the curriculum designed for 8th graders and moving it to sixth graders,” said teacher Jason Dewey.
Eighth graders will now have their choice between Introduction to Trades or Agriculture Engineering. Seventh graders will continue to study Design and Modeling.
“The goal is to get the PLTW teachers together and vertically align our curriculum to make sure we are giving students what they need,” said Toby Youngs, Associate Principal of the Windsor Central Middle School.
“We want to build on their strengths and fill in any gaps. They’re coming in now and learning engineering in Kindergarten so by the time the come to the Middle School they’ve got an engineering background,” said Mulcahy.
“We are fortunate to have educators like Ms. Mulcahy, Mr. Dewey and Mr. (Mark) Wentka who understand the significance of their work within the school district and impact to the greater community. Their willingness to collaborate is vital to building a premier program,” said Beattie.
Beattie says that although increasing the number of students, especially female engineers on this career path is important, of greater importance is the collaboration and problem-solving skills students will develop over the course of their Project Lead the Way experience.