The Southeast Polk district’s mission is “Learn. Lead. Live. Success for college, career, and civic life.” The district’s vision and mission for STEM is “At Southeast Polk schools, all students engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to identify challenges and design solutions. We provide opportunities for students to collaborate, communicate, create, and think critically to solve real-world problems. Students participate in hands-on learning opportunities to build the skills they need to be the next generation of innovators.” Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a framework to successfully address that vision.
Students will benefit from PLTW by growing a passion for STEM subjects. Students decide in elementary school if they think they are good at math and science, and they develop their interests in these subjects at a young age. Confidence early on in STEM subjects is vital to Southeast Polk students continuing their learning into junior high, high school, and postsecondary experiences.
Students participating in PLTW will learn to solve problems, think critically, and follow a structured design process. They will learn making mistakes is not only okay, but an important part of learning. Teachers will benefit from participating. Teachers develop instructional knowledge and content knowledge around science and engineering practices. Currently, teachers are beginning to study and implement these as required in the Iowa core science standards. PLTW will allow teachers to move forward with best practices in teaching students to solve problems and think critically at rigorous levels.
Students working in a STEM environment show increased achievement in all curricular areas. The mission, vision and core values establish and require the district to provide powerful experiences for ALL our students regardless of background or circumstances.
The demand for STEM skills in the workplace continues to grow. According to PLTW research, students engaged in their STEM curriculum outperform their peers in school and are better prepared for postsecondary studies and success in the global economy.
The Southeast Polk School District has identified and engaged partners in the community including John Deere, Dee Zee, Zeigler CAT, Unity Point Health, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Communication Innovators, Drake University, DCI Group, Nationwide Insurance, Shive-Hattery, East Polk Regional Development Corporation, Slingshot Architecture, Des Moines University, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Principal Corporation, Pella Corporation, Summit Products, Bass Pro Shops, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Cargill and the Science Center of Iowa. Representatives from these organizations and others regularly attend partnership meetings and work with Southeast Polk to support PLTW programs and teachers. These partners have supported Project Lead the Way and STEM in a variety of ways including classroom visits, career fairs, product donations, and grants.
Southeast Polk holds community partnership meetings three times each school year. These meetings are not only open to the identified partners, but also to parents, students, teachers, community members, and area political leaders. Southeast Polk is committed to engaging more community, business, and industry partners. Southeast Polk publishes a newsletter corresponding to each of the meetings. Information about implementation, classroom activities and details on how to be involved in Project Lead the Way is included in each issue. This newsletter is sent to hundreds of parents and community members as well as distributed to each of our schools.
Learn More about PLTW