BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - More than 800 teachers from across Missouri hit the books Monday at the state’s annual Project Lead The Way conference. For the first time, the organization hosted the conference in Kansas City, at Blue Springs South High School.
Project Lead The Way is a nationwide nonprofit that certifies teachers in STEM-related fields. The term is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. Schools that participate in the kindergarten through 12th-grade program have teachers who instruct project-oriented courses.
Organizers said by teaching students to work collaboratively, think critically, and develop a love for science they can improve the education system, develop a skilled workforce, and grow the economy.
“I can't stress enough how amazing an opportunity this is,” explained Mikayla Odell, a senior at Lee's Summit West High School. “I am able to do the professional level labs and skills and not just a watered-down version. Instead, I'm able to have the resources to do professional projects and it really makes a difference to how much I learn and the method of thinking that these processes involve.”
Odell was one of the several students with projects from their Project Lead The Way classes on display to share with teachers from across the state. She hopes to become a doctor.
“There's no limit to how much you can learn,” she pointed out. “They're always researching more ideas and there's more information coming out.”
Her classmate highlighted how the program gives students a jumpstart on life after high school.
“It definitely gives me a leg-up on going to college, scholarships, things like that,” explained Maddie Wiencek. “It's really cool to talk about what we've been able to do that most college students are doing.”
Project Lead The Way will host next year’s conference in the Kansas City area as well.