How an Indianapolis Nonprofit Transformed American STEM Education

Almost half of American public secondary schools use an active project- and problem-based approach to science, technology, engineering and math education that shows learners how knowledge and skills may be applied in everyday life. The popular curriculum doesn’t come from one of the big publishers. It’s from an Indianapolis nonprofit with a unique name: Project Lead the Way, now widely known simply as PLTW. Think of PLTW as STEM-as-a-service. Schools subscribe to PLTW and get digital courseware through myPLTW powered by Inkling, access to technical support, and a range of professional learning opportunities. Launched in 1997 in upstate New York, the nonprofit was serving about 2,000 schools when an Indiana school superintendent, Dr. Vince Bertram took over and moved the organization to Indianapolis with local and regional support and the backing of Mayor Bart Peterson and Governor Mitch Daniels. It helped that Indiana was the largest PLTW state with about 300 school partners.

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