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Frequently Asked Questions

   What is the FVL STEM Academy?

The Academy is an educational opportunity that features specialized STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) courses through the national Project Lead the Way® education program.  In addition, the Academy will emphasize rigorous general education courses, providing graduates with the greatest opportunity for success in a post-secondary STEM program. 

   What is Project Lead the Way®?

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a national non-profit STEM education initiative that provides high schools with a rigorous, relevant STEM education. Through an engaging hands-on curriculum, PLTW encourages the development of problem-solving skills, critical thinking, creative and innovative reasoning, and a love of learning. The PLTW high school STEM education program gives students a brighter future by providing them with a foundation and proven path to college and career success in STEM-related fields.

   Why should I consider the STEM Academy for my child?

The STEM Academy is designed to challenge students who have an interest in STEM-related fields and who are highly motivated to learn. Students enrolled will be challenged academically with the goal of giving them the greatest opportunity for success in post-secondary STEM programs and careers.

   How will this program benefit my child academically?

The PLTW STEM education program provides the inspiration for a new generation of innovators, the practical skills and hands-on experience to make students' knowledge count in the real world, and the basis for the next generation of leadership in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

PLTW develops motivated, well-rounded students by instilling confidence, stressing the importance of self-discovery, encouraging innovative problem-solving and critical thinking, teaching team building, and rewarding creativity.

Your student will develop skills essential for achievement in the classroom and success in college and the work force.

In addition...

    • PLTW students achieve significantly higher scores in reading, mathematics, and science.
    • PLTW graduates earn higher GPAs as college freshmen.
    • PLTW graduates are 5-10 times more likely to study engineering and technology. 

   Is the Academy only meant for students who are going into science or engineering careers?

The focus of STEM-related courses is certainly to provide an introduction to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.  However, students also develop a broad range of skills that will benefit them in college and in the workplace, regardless of the field they choose.

   What STEM classes will be offered and when?

PLTW's Pathway To Engineering (PTE) high school curriculum is designed as a four-year high school sequence which includes three foundation courses, a specialization course, and a capstone course.  Students in the Academy will typically take one course in each of the first two years, two courses in the third year, and one the last year.  Below is a description of the year-long courses and a tentative timeline for when they will be introduced into the curriculum.

Foundation Courses

Introduction to Engineering Design (IED)
Designed for 9th or 10th grade students, the major focus of the IED course is to expose students to the design process, research and analysis, teamwork, communication methods, global and human impacts, engineering standards and technical documentation. Students use 3D solid modeling design software to help them design solutions to solve proposed problems and learn how to document their work and communicate solutions to peers and members of the professional community.

Principles of Engineering (POE)
This survey course of engineering exposes students to major concepts they'll encounter in a postsecondary engineering course of study. Students employ engineering and scientific concepts in the solution of engineering design problems. They develop problem-solving skills and apply their knowledge of research and design to create solutions to various challenges, documenting their work and communicating solutions to peers and members of the professional community.

Specialization Courses

Aerospace Engineering (AE)
AE explores the evolution of flight, navigation and control, flight fundamentals, aerospace materials, propulsion, space travel, and orbital mechanics. In addition, this course presents alternative applications for aerospace engineering concepts. Students analyze, design, and build aerospace systems. They apply knowledge gained throughout the course in a final presentation about the future of the industry and their professional goals. This course is designed for 10th, 11th or 12th grade students.

Computer Science Principles (CSP)
CSE is project- and problem-based, with students working in teams to develop computational thinking and solve open-ended, practical problems that occur in the real world.  The course aligns with the College Board's new AP Computer Science Principles framework.  The course is not a programming language course; it aims instead to develop computational thinking, to generate excitement about the field of computing, and to introduce computational tools that foster creativity.  Students completing this course will be well-prepared for a first course in Java or other object-oriented language.  This course is designed for 11th or 12th grade students.

Capstone Course

Engineering Design and Development (EDD)
This is an engineering research course in which students will work in teams to research, design, test and construct a solution to an open-ended engineering problem. The product development life cycle and a design process are used to guide and help the team to reach a solution to the problem. The team presents and defends their solution to a panel of outside reviewers at the conclusion of the course. The EDD course allows students to apply all the skills and knowledge learned in previous Project Lead The Way courses. The use of 3D design software helps students design solutions to the problem their team has chosen. This course also engages students in time management and teamwork skills, a valuable set for students in the future. This course is designed for 12th grade students.  

   How are these courses different from what has been offered in the past?

While FVL has historically provided a variety of technical education opportunities, the PLTW curriculum will take project-oriented learning to the highest level.  PLTW STEM courses focus on merging multiple disciplines into a comprehensive learning experience comparable to similar college-level courses. 

   Can my child take these in place of other required science and math classes?

No.  The PLTW courses are to be taken in addition to other required science and math classes.

   How much homework should I expect my child to bring home?

The amount of homework a student could potentially have is largely dependent on their academic abilities and their use of in-class and study hall time at school.  On average, traditionally enrolled students will have 1-2 hours of homework a night.  Students enrolled in the Academy can likely expect an additional 30 minutes on average per evening.

   Is tutoring available?

Peer tutoring is available and coordinated through the FVL National Honor Society program.  Additional tutoring may be arranged with teachers on an individual basis as their schedules allow.

   Is the time of the school day changed for STEM Academy participants?

No.  STEM courses will be scheduled into the normal eight period day like any other course.

   Are there additional costs associated with being  a part of the STEM Academy?


   Can my child attend another school and attend FVL only for the PLTW STEM courses?

No.  The goal of the STEM Academy is not only to provide STEM-related courses, but also to provide a complete Christian education focused on success at the post-secondary level. 

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