New course provides STEM experience and scholarship opportunities


Sofia Orozco

2nd year PLTW students have been using ELEGOO Kits to learn how electrical currents work

This year, the Science department has introduced a program designed to give students hands-on and real world STEM experience through a new course that will also result in scholarship money.

The program is known as Project Lead The Way (PLTW), and is a non-profit organization that develops STEM curriculum for use by elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the country. The new course at Glenbard East is called PLTW Intro to Engineering & Design (IED). 

PLTW Engineering & Design is an elective course that students take for the whole school year. This IED course is for individuals who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to pursue their engineering careers. Students who successfully complete the course will earn college money to pursue a higher education as they learn engineering skills.

“This is a general engineering course that people learn in school. In this course, students will be expected to learn about general engineering and how it works,” said Jonathan Pietras, a science teacher at East.

Some students may be familiar with the program in other contexts, most likely when they were taking STEM classes in local elementary and middle schools. Now, instead of coding, the students will move on to more advanced real life problems.

According to Pietras, there are a lot of things students will learn in this high school course. The PLTW course is about being able to apply science, technology, math and engineering principles to solve problems throughout individual work and group work collaboration. 

This curriculum includes critical thinking and being able to find solutions to problems. Students will sketch, design, and test structures that are given from each course entry. The class will also provide hands-on technology as students get to work with robotics by designing and testing actual robots, Pietras said. For example, students evaluate solutions to problems using a notebook and 3D software to develop a series of designs throughout the course. 

Pietras said it is an amazing class.

 “It helps students think critically about how people are able to solve the problem by finding solutions and being able to design structures to enhance their engineering skills.”

He did say that things will have to be different than planned this year due to COVID 19 and the effect on the school day.

“It could be hard sometimes since we’re not in school, such as collaborating with students during remote learning. However, when students are doing hybrid learning, they will be able to figure out how to collaborate with other students while trying to maintain social distancing guidelines.”

Sophomore student Benjamin Judd gave positive reviews about the course.

“I like designing stuff, finding out, and designing things in general. So the reason why I took the course is because last year, I took Engineering Graphics and Mr. Pietras suggested what I should take and I looked at the course and saw good things about it, so I would find it interesting,” said Judd.

According to Judd, “It would be helpful if I’ll ever get to go and do engineering, which is my plan. It will be helpful to have experience and learn to design things. I don’t have any recommendations, but if you’re thinking about doing it, it’s a fun class…”

Senior student Korey Bowen Jr. said he has been engineering since a kid and enjoys the creative aspect of designing things, and so he really enjoys this course. 

“I like it, and I like to draw maps. I’ve done that since I was a little kid, so I would draw maps and everything that is based on civil engineering, like building roads, streets and bridges and stuff like that.” Bowen said.

Bowen said “collaborating with other people” will help him be successful in the engineering course. 

He also said he suggests to students that “If you guys are interested in taking an engineering course and spend your creativity, then take it.”