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Little Rock Christian Academy


Project Lead the Way


The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will grow 17 percent by 2018 – nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields. 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.

LRCA is teaching students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in STEM careers, as well as the collaborative problem solving skills that will benefit them in any career path they choose. Little Rock Christian is utilizing Project Lead the Way to accomplish that goal. This innovative curriculum was introduced in elementary STEM classes in 2015 and will be launched in middle school and high school in August 2016.

When students understand how STEM education is relevant to their lives and future careers, they get excited. Invoking excitement is what Project Lead the Way does on a regular basis and the reason students are successful.

Project Lead the Way is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs, providing a comprehensive approach to STEM education Through world-class curriculum, a high-quality professional development model, and an engaged network of educators and corporate and community partners, Project Lead the Way helps students develop the skills necessary to succeed in our global economy. The organization currently delivers programs to more than 8,000 schools in all 50 states. Its success in preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed has been recognized by colleges and universities, Fortune 500 businesses and numerous national organizations. Through activity, project, and problem-based curriculum, Project Lead the Way gives students in kindergarten through high school a chance to apply what they know, identify problems, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning. For educators, the engaging, rigorous model provides tools to empower students and transform the classroom into a collaboration space where content comes to life.

In kindergarten through fifth grade, students become problem solvers and employ critical thinking using structured approaches such as engineering design process. They apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, while learning that it is okay to take risks and make mistakes. As teachers and students learn and discover together, education becomes far more engaging. Elementary STEM instructor, Michele Irby said, “Having an elementary STEM lab is a tremendous investment in our students that will pay dividends in future years as they grow academically. We are laying the groundwork for successful careers in STEM for these students.”

Middle School is the perfect time for students to explore and learn that there is more than one way to reach a solution. The Project Lead the Way middle school/ junior high curriculum challenges and inspires students through engineering, biomedical, and computer sciences. Students use industry-leading technology to solve problems while gaining skills in communication, collaboration, critical-thinking, and creativity.

Barry McCaskill, Head of the Science Department in the high school said, “Project Lead the Way Engineering is more than just another high school engineering program. It is about applying engineering, science, math, and technology to solve complex, open-ended problems in a real-world context.” Students focus on the process of defining and solving a problem, not on getting the “right” answer. They learn how to apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to make the world a better place through innovation.

Project Lead the Way Computer Science empowers students to become creators, instead of merely consumers, of the technology all around them. The program engages students in real-world activities like creating an online art portal and using automation to process and analyze DNA-sequence data. These projects and problems engage students in computational thinking, challenge them to think big, and help illustrate how intricately computer science is woven into our society.


Kindergarten – Pushes and Pulls; Structure and Function of the Human Body

First Grade – Light and Sound; Animal Adaptations

Second Grade – Materials Science Form and Function; Grids and Games

Third Grade – The Science of Flight; Variation of Traits

Fourth Grade – Input and Output of the Human Brain; Energy Collisions


Design and Modeling - Students apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They work in teams to design a playground and furniture, capturing research and ideas in their engineering notebooks. Using Autodesk® design software, students create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their innovative solutions.


Introduction to Engineering Design - Students dig deep into the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects. They work both individually and in teams to design solutions to a variety of problems using 3D modeling software, and use an engineering notebook to document their work.

Principles of Engineering (2017) - Through problems that engage and challenge, students explore a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, and automation. Students develop skills in problem solving, research, and design while learning strategies for design process documentation, collaboration, and presentation.


Introduction to Computer Science - Designed to be the first computer science course for students who have never programmed before, ICS is an optional starting point for the PLTW Computer Science program. Students work in teams to create apps for mobile devices using MIT App Inventor®. They explore the impact of computing in society and build skills in digital citizenship and cyber security. Beyond learning the fundamentals of programming, students build computational thinking skills by applying computer science to collaboration tools, modeling and simulation, and data analysis. In addition, students transfer the understanding of programming gained in App Inventor to text-based programming in Python® and apply their knowledge to create algorithms for games of chance and strategy.