This summer, for the second consecutive year, FGCU hosted a program called Project Lead the Way.
The workshop began July 6 and ended in the beginning of August.
PLTW is a nonprofit organization that delivers science, technology, engineering, and math education to educators all over the nation.
According to the official website of PLTW, STEM is where jobs are today and where the job growth will be in the future.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, jobs in STEM will grow 17 percent by 2018 by 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs because there will not be enough qualified workers to fill them.
There is typically only one university selected as a training site per state, but since Florida is so large, FGCU is one of two training sites with Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach being the other.
“PLTW is a great program,” said Lisa Zidek, affiliate director of the program. “It was an honor to be selected [as a training site].”
PLTW teaches K-12 teachers through workshops that are taught in a hands-on classroom setting. Most workshops last a full 40-hour week; however, some are just three days. The information they are given is enough for them to integrate STEM into their year-long classroom curricula.
Depending on the age group the information is intended for, each workshop has a different theme. A few examples of the types of workshops taught are Design and Modeling, Robotics and Automation, and Medical Detectives.
“In the Medical Detectives class, they actually dissect a sheep brain,” Zidek said. “It is really cool.”
Medical Detectives is also Rebecca Halmich’s favorite class. Halmich, a junior biomedical engineering major, assisted Zidek with PLTW this summer.
“I helped plan the conference and facilitated its success,” Halmich said. “From planning the daily catered lunch and operations, to gathering and organizing all of the essential materials required for each class to run efficiently.”
Schools that want their teachers to be educated by PLTW must purchase access to the curriculum and training, as well as the necessary materials for their classrooms. As a training site, FGCU has invested in the same materials that the teachers being trained will use in their classrooms, so they truly have the best hands-on experience and leave the program fully prepared.
Zidek said in 2014, the first year that FGCU hosted PLTW, approximately 40 trainees attended. This summer, 100 teachers were trained on campus, and an additional 35 were taught off campus in Orange County as an affiliation with FGCU.
With PLTW, each public high school teacher has face time with an average of more than 100 high school students.
“We want high school teachers to see how great FGCU is,” Zidek said.
Any students interested in becoming involved with PLTW can reach out to Zidek at [email protected]