STEM program helps kids look beyond the stars

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) have partnered to bring AGI's analysis and 3-D visualization software to PLTW's Aerospace Engineering classrooms throughout the country.

PLTW's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program includes an Aerospace Engineering course that covers topics from airfoil design to planetary rover programming and space travel.

AGI, a producer of analysis software for the aerospace, defense and intelligence communities, will provide PLTW Aerospace Engineering classrooms with free access to its software, allowing students to create 3-D scenarios of complex space-related topics and to solve real space analysis problems. All PLTW Aerospace Engineering classrooms will have access to the technology beginning in fall 2011.

"The more opportunities students have to use their hands and minds to solve real-world problems, the more engaged they become and the more likely they are to continue studying these fields in their academic careers," said John Lock, CEO of PLTW. "AGI's software provides students the opportunity early on to master the very same technology that the world's leading aerospace engineers use in real life."

PLTW is a national, non-profit organization that challenges K-12 students with innovative STEM curricular programs. PLTW provides a hands-on, project-based curriculum that shows students how what they are learning in math and science class applies to the real-world. Each course emphasizes problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork.

Many PTLW schools around the country have already integrated AGI's software into their Aerospace Engineering curricula.

"Where else can a student have access to the tools used by multi-million dollar corporations to simulate orbital mechanics and become engaged with topics that would otherwise just be theoretical lectures?" said Bryce McLean, an instructor at Coronado High School in Colorado Springs. "The level of understanding and engagement increases by leaps and bounds when the students can sit down, interact with a satellite that they themselves have created and then see the results in the high quality realistic graphics of AGI software."