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Project Lead the Way
Valley Springs Middle students learn robotics.             
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What if there was a class where curiosity ruled? Where you learned not only how things worked, but how you might make them work better. Where the biggest challenge was between you and your imagination.
Now imagine a car that could morph its shape based on the driver's whims. What if satellites had metal-like skins that could repair themselves from damage in space? What if old high-rise buildings could be turned into vertical farms to help fight world hunger? Picture a 3D cell-phone screen strapped to your wrist. How about turning pond scum into green fuel? Or rearranging the molecules of your blood to fight off deadly diseases?

These and countless other life-changing innovations are taking shape in labs, in test tubes and on computer screens around the world. But they all have one thing in common. They all come from an engineer's or scientist's imagination. Right now there are classrooms where you too can begin to dream up tomorrow's wonders - a remarkable space of imagination, innovation and learning that could only be called an Innovation Zone!
It's a classroom that's unlike any other you've experienced. A space filled with the latest design software, advanced materials and cutting-edge equipment. It's a place that's buzzing with project-based assignments, like programming robots and analyzing DNA samples. Where facts and figures are turned into ingenuity and inventiveness. Where the four walls of the classroom open up and lead to real-world challenges and opportunities - from energy and the environment, to housing and healthcare, to transportation and technology.
It's collaborative. It's creative. It's critical thinking. And it's all centered on the most vital fields of learning and essential professions needed in the world today and tomorrow. What educators call STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Step through the door, and you'll experience an approach to learning that fuels imaginative thinking, creative problem solving and innovative solutions - just the kinds of skills that will help you succeed in your education and beyond.
Buncombe County Schools offers PLTW in elementary, intermediate, middle and high school. Classes in each school level focus on hands-on learning and the integration of academics and engaging activities. Robotics competitions are a way for students to demonstrate their skills and bring the learning "alive." Interactive competitions allow them to practice their design process skills as they must be able to assess, problem solve, redesign, adapt, and change rapidly - truly replicating business practices of today.
PLTW classes are taught in school during the school day, and every instructor of PLTW courses receives extensive training as well as ongoing support in the courses they teach. While the STEM subject matter is rigorous, the approach is never rigid. That’s because the PLTW program provides a flexible curriculum platform schools can customize to meet the specific needs of their academic environments.

Over the last several years, numerous academic institutions have released reports confirming PLTW’s success in engaging the hearts and minds of students through STEM education. The studies are all unique in how they were conducted. However, the results say the same thing: PLTW is igniting the imagination and innovation of students through learning. In addition, assessment and evaluation are critical components of PLTW’s program, which PLTW uses to improve its course offerings.
For more information on Project Lead the Way at Buncombe County Schools, contact Taylor Baldwin, Director of Career Technical Education, at 828-255-5931 or by email at
Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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