Shawsheen Tech Students Praise School’s New Math & Science Curriculum

BILLERICA, MA — One year after Shawsheen Valley Technical High School implemented Project Lead the Way (PLTW), students shared their perspectives on this engaging new program designed to enhance learning in math and science.

Logan Salvi, Billerica, and Jamie Quintiliani, Tewksbury, now juniors at the Tech, participated as sophomores during the inaugural year of PLTW. As students in the drafting program, they spent two weeks each month immersed in learning architectural, mechanical and electrical design. Students participate in PLTW during the shop weeks.

The newly integrated PLTW curriculum provided them the opportunity to enhance their understanding of how things are designed and produced.

“We discovered how things in our everyday lives really work,” Salvi said

PLTW is offered at the Tech primarily to students in the advanced manufacturing program which includes machine technology, drafting, and electronics and robotics. The PLTW instructor team of Jim Muthig, an experienced PLTW teacher and PLTW trained paraprofessional Alexis Clement teach in a new PLTW laboratory adjacent to the recently renovated and upgraded machine technology shop. PLTW works as an online portal that has instructional assignments followed by a variety of project templates for self-directed learning.

“PLTW is basically an online way for you to submit your work and get feedback from our teacher.” Salvi said. “And on that online portal you have a few files per project. For instance, principles of engineering is one of the projects and we would be presented with a PowerPoint that gives us the basic knowledge of that lesson and then there would be worksheets that walked us through activities to go along with the PowerPoint lesson.”

And all this learning activity is intended to enhance and complement the otherwise deep learning that takes place in Salvi’s case in the drafting shop.

Quintiliani said the time she spent during the past academic year in the new PLTW lab was an eye-opening experience that gave her the opportunity to see how things work in the real world. She recalled a realization she had last year while working with remote control devices.

“I thought it would be pretty simple, but it’s actually very complex. What PLTW did is help me understand how things work together,” Quintiliani said.

Salvi echoed the sentiment, noting that the curriculum helps them better understand the drafting tools that he was using in his shop.

“I learned that part of drafting is about designing parts so one thing a drafter might be doing is drafting an electronic circuit board and network and this translates literally to what we were doing in project lead the way using electronic circuit boards. Just being in that class you can see how all the shops that participate in project lead the way come together and work together,” Salvi said.

Muthig, an electrical engineer with extensive experience in industry, made a major career change a decade ago when he entered the classroom as a PLTW instructor. He is a 10- year veteran teaching the PLTW curriculum in other high schools prior to taking the position at Shawsheen Tech. Muthig points out that at many other high schools the students generally do not have the time to take full advantage of the Project Lead the Way experience. Muthig says this is the reason behind his decision to come to the Tech where he notes that students here have the opportunity to optimize the full potential of the program.

Muthig, a Master PLTW instructor who in the summer trains other PLTW instructors, said that “PLTW in its essence is a problem-solving tool that can be applied in a wide variety of fields including every engineering field. The method develops students’ ability to take her/his knowledge of math and science and then see how something works”, he said. His co-instructor, Alexis Clement, a mechanical engineer also with years of experience in industry, noted that “the curriculum exposes students to engineering to programming and to building and it gives them more of what they came to the tech to do”.

Project Lead the Way is now in year two and both Mr. Muthig and Ms. Clement are looking forward to adding more topics and projects as year two progresses.

Logan Salvi (Billerica) and Jamie Quintiliani ( Tewksbury) in the new Shawsheen Tech PLTW Lab
Logan Salvi (Billerica) and Jamie Quintiliani (Tewksbury) in the new PLTW Lab

(NOTE: The above press release is from the Shawsheen Tech.)

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