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2 Perry Township elementary schools introducing new curriculum

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Perry Township heads back to class Wednesday. This year, two of the district’s elementary schools are in for a big change. Jeremiah Gray and Rosa Parks are introducing new curriculum to help students think outside the box.

Jeremiah Gray and Rosa Parks are implementing Project Lead the Way at the K-5 level. It’s called Launch. PLTW provides a STEM approach which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. The Launch arm of PLTW has only been available for a few years making Jeremiah Gray and Rosa parks some of the first elementary schools in the state to bring it on board.

Jeremiah Gray Elementary School Principal Doug Smith says PLTW Launch will give his students a leg up when it comes to life in the real world.

“Maybe one student has one approach to a problem and another student has a different approach and they solve the problem each their own way, but they each arrive at that same conclusion; being able to solve that problem,” said Smith.

Crissy Vandercook will be the lead teacher. Vandercook went through three days of intense Launch training and now will cycle through all of Jeremiah Gray’s elementary students by spending one hour a day, for about two weeks with each group. They’re hope is to provide hands-on experience like learning computer programming, diagnosing injuries and making casts, and seeing how engineers influence our everyday lives.

“Very excited. Like I said, it’s been something that I’d say really for the past five years that I saw as a need for our students to be successful in the future,” said Vandercook.

Perry Meridian High already implements Project Lead the Way. If the elementary pilots go well, they will expand to other Perry Township K-5’s, then to middle schools and academies. This will eventually provide all students in Perry Township hands-on learning from start to finish.

“Maybe opening their eyes to careers that they hadn’t thought about being a possibility for them,” said Smith.

“You can teach facts. You can teach math facts, you can teach how to do an equation all day long, but until students see that real-world application, in a fun way, how it applies to them and what they can really use it for, they don’t see the power of that learning,” said Vandercook.

For Vandercook and Smith it’s been about a year and a half of training and presentations. It’s time spent that they hope can impact Perry Township students for a lifetime.

Launch was approved by the school board. The start-up cost to buy the curriculum kits is about $50,000. Smith says that is a one-time purchase that will have much lower operating costs thereafter.

For much more on project lead the way click here.