Community Connections: Project Lead the Way and Bemis
Posted on 07/13/2017
The Appleton Area School District partners with community organizations and businesses you’d never expect! We're highlighting some of these partnerships that are essential in fulfilling our educational vision and mission.

AASD’s desire to spark early interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers got a big boost two years ago when it partnered with Bemis on Project Lead the Way’s Launch.

“PLTW was developed to engage K-6 students in design, innovation, and real-world STEM activities,” said Dale Hanson, AASD’s Director of Technology Services. “Each grade level offers instructional modules in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science.”  

Today, most AASD elementary schools use PLTW Launch, with more growth anticipated.

“We've found that PLTW's Launch program, with its hands-on learning activities, gets kids excited at an early age about subjects, like science and math, that can sometimes be dry and theoretical,”  said Kim Wetzel, Bemis Company Foundation’s Director Consultant.

“When you walk into a classroom of excited fourth-graders working hard on their iPads to solve engineering problems as they create their latest mechanical invention, you can see how they're applying math and science in ways we didn't believe in the past were possible in elementary grades.”

McKinley fifth-graders recently used VEX kits and iPads to construct a vehicle that can descend a ramp without cracking the egg inside. “The kids love technology and building,” said teacher Cam Markwardt. 

Sixth-graders built and programmed robots to collect cubes of “toxic waste.” 

“This is a whole different mindset for students and engages all levels of learners, including those who struggle,” said teacher Jill Kinney. “They use creativity, problem solving, technology, perseverance, and teamwork — skills they will need in the workforce.”

“I never thought about how things work before,” said sixth-grader Melanie Weis. Classmate Austin Demerath is already considering STEM careers. “I like solving problems.”

Wetzel likes their enthusiasm. “Bemis knows careers in STEM fields will only grow in the future, and Launch students of today will be  STEM innovators of tomorrow.”
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