Project Lead The Way

Accepting New Applications October 11, 2023

The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has been awarded a $2.98 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation to increase student interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by providing middle school students access to high-quality STEM curriculum that supports hands-on, real-world learning, from Project Lead The Way (PLTW). Research shows that STEM career exploration and training must start in K-12, ideally in middle school. STEM education fosters student development of essential skills such as problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, communication, collaboration, perseverance, and innovation. Integrated STEM learning also improves student performance in mathematics and science. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Gateway is a
hands-on, project-based middle school curriculum that challenges students to solve real-world problems. It is a strong foundation for further STEM learning in high school and beyond. Eighty-seven percent of PLTW Gateway students reported their PLTW course increased their interest in STEM. Schools receiving grant funds from DESE will employ PLTW Gateway curriculum in four specific courses, which will constitute one unit each semester (see details below).

  • 7th Grade: 
    1. Design and modeling (Course Code: 399120): Design and modeling (DM) provides students with opportunities to apply the design process to creatively solve problems. Students are introduced to the unit problem in the first activity and are asked to make connections to the problem throughout the lessons in the unit.  
    2. Medical detectives (Course Code: 399180): Apply experimental design, creative thinking, and problem-solving to investigate the inner workings of the human body, diagnose disease, and improve human health. 
  • 8th Grade: 
    1. Automation and robotics (Course Code: 399110): Automation and robotics allow students to trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. 
    2. Flight and space (Course Code: 399250): Students become engineers as they design, prototype, and test models to learn about the science of flight and what it takes to travel and live in space.

For more information, please contact:

Jason G. Bailey, M. Ed

Arkansas Department of Education
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Learning Services
Four Capitol Mall, Room 303B
Little Rock, AR 72201
Office: 501-537-5717




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