Cahill said that’s why the younger generations need to feel comfortable around technology, especially engineering.
“It’s a tool that’s fun and isn’t scary to show them all the possibilities and their own capabilities,” Cahill said. “They apply what they learn in a context in which it wasn’t learned, and that’s one of the great things that PLTW does.”
Lower School Principal Patricia Martello said the program is long overdue.
“It’s time and maybe past time to implement it with the 5- and 6-year-olds,” Martello said. “We’re not pushing the boundaries of these kids. They are born with technology in their hands.”
The lower school has been a part of the Full Option Science System since 1993, a research-based science curriculum.
“They keep a science journal, they label materials, collect data and document findings,” said Judy-Smith. “So they understand there’s more to being a scientist than watching volcanoes erupt.”
Teacher training for the new program will take place in Indianapolis during the first two weeks of October.
Wesley Terrell, a senior director of programs at PLTW, said one module for elementary schools is building an animal-rescue device.
“They have to build the device out of robotic equipment to rescue the animal,” said Terrell, referring to the elephant model. “They’re not only using simple machines and putting things together, but it also becomes about the health of the animal.”
Yolanda Baquet, a science teacher and the middle school’s PLTW chair, said the biomedical science program, which Gulliver piloted last year, changed the class environment.
“It brought it to life,” said Baquet, pointing at a temperature probe. “They learn about hypertension, increased blood pressure and increased salt in the body. It was only textbook-based, and now they use the tools they will actually use in the field.”
Steven Lazar, 14, an eighth-grader who took Baquet’s biomedical science class, acknowledged how fortunate he is.
“I think it’s pretty cool because we’re doing stuff that only certain classes are doing in the country — it’s actually very cool.”