K-8 STEM is Kicking off in DPS!

We live in a world where science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) play a critical role in every job, every home, and every aspect of advanced learning. The integration of STEM disciplines is critical for all students, not just those who are naturally proficient in math and science.

Successful STEM programs engage a broad range of student interests and abilities. Learning must be truly personalized; it must be individualized, differentiated and relevant to the interests and experiences of each and every student.

Creative Learning Systems SmartLab

SmartLab is an engaging program where students can explore STEM and media arts through applied technology and project-based learning. It’s a fully-integrated learning environment where everything from furniture and technology to curriculum and assessment work together to support hands-on, minds-on learning. It’s a place where personalized learning and intrinsic motivation engage students of all ages, interests and abilities. Students are creating remarkable projects that motivate them to inquire, explain, tackle new problems and celebrate their solutions in every lab. 

Students explore. They problem-solve. They collaborate and create. And they learn.

SmartLabs have been funded by generous donations at the following schools:

  • Campos EPC SmartLabs: William Bill Roberts | Beach Court Elementary | Sabin World School | Samuels Elementary
  • Other SmartLabs in DPS: Merrill Middle School | Slavens Elementary School
Info about Learning Launcher
Each Learning Launcher engagement provides engaging, hands-on, minds-on, project-based activities in STEM, digital communications and related topics


  • Applied technology to reinforce academics and build next generation skills
  • Personalized learning with multiple challenge levels, open-ended activities and opportunities for students to shape and expand learning around their own interests, abilities and learning styles
  • Connections to core academic content and alignment to standards
  • Extension activities for advanced learners to explore topics in even greater depth
  • Systems of Technology
  • Alternative and Renewable Energy
  • Circuitry
  • Computer Graphics
  • Digital Communications
  • Mechanics and Structures
  • Robotics and Control Technology
  • Scientific Data and Analysis
  • Software Engineering

Project Lead the Way Gateway (6-8)

PLTW Gateway sparks engagement and illuminates possibilities for middle schoolers. This is a time of exploration when students are figuring out what they’re passionate about today and how that relates to who they’ll become tomorrow. Project Lead the Way Gateway helps students achieve just that. PLTW Gateway’s 10 units empower students to lead their own discovery through hands-on programing that boosts classroom engagement and excitement, drives collaboration, and deep comprehension. Students connect what they could do in high school and beyond as they engage in PLTW’s activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science.

PLTW Gateway Funding and Curriculum
Project Lead the Way Gateway programs have been funded by generous donations at the following schools:

  • Lockheed Martin Funded Gateways Schools: 
McAuliffe at Manual | 
Morey Middle School | 
Bear Valley International School
| Florida Pitt Waller
  • Verizon Funded Gateway Schools in DPS: Lake International School
 | Martin Luther King 
| West Generation Academy Middle School | 
DCIS at Montbello | 
Grant Beacon Middle School | Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
 | Dora Moore School | McAuliffe International School
  • Other Gateway Schools in DPS: Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences | ACE Community Challenge School | Denver Discovery School 
Vista Academy | Henry Middle School

Project Lead the Way Gateway Curriculum*: Design and Modeling – Students explore the design process and start to see the connection between creativity and innovation. Their goal is to apply what they learned in the unit and design a therapeutic toy for a child with cerebral palsy. Automation and Robotics – Students learn about the history and impact of automation and robotics as they explore mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Using the VEX Robotics® platform, students design and program traffic lights, robotic arms, and more. Introduction to Computer Science 1 – Students develop computer science knowledge and skills by focusing on creativity and an iterative design process as they create their own basic apps using MIT App Inventor®. Introduction to Computer Science 2 – Students venture into text-based programming through Python and develop an app to crowdsource and analyze data on a topic of their interest. Energy and the Environment – Students are challenged to think big and about the future as they explore sustainable solutions to our energy needs and investigate the impact of energy on our lives and the world. They use what they’ve learned to design and model alternative energy sources, as well as evaluate options for reducing energy consumption. Flight and Space – Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build, and test an airfoil. Science of Technology – Students apply the concepts of physics, chemistry, and nanotechnology to activities and projects, including making ice cream, cleaning up an oil spill, and discovering the properties of nano-materials. Magic of Electrons – Students examine the behavior and parts of atoms and the impact of electricity on the world around them. They learn skills in basic circuitry design and use what they know to propose designs such as a burglar alarm for an art museum. Green Architecture – Students learn how to apply green concepts to the fields of architecture and construction. They explore dimensioning, measuring, and architectural sustainability and apply what they have learned to design affordable housing units through Autodesk’s® 3D architectural design software. Medical Detectives – Students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they analyze genetic testing results to diagnose disease and study DNA evidence found at a “crime scene.” They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, investigate how to measure and interpret vital signs, and learn how the systems of the human body work together to maintain health. *Content was summarized from Project Lead the Way’s website and can be viewed in full here.

Project Lead the Way Launch (K-5)

Amazing discoveries start here for K-5 students as they experience what it means to be great designers and innovators. PLTW Launch taps into their exploratory nature, engages them in learning that feels like play, and encourages them to keep discovering throughout their lives. PLTW Launch features 24 modules intended to bring learning to life. The program empowers students to adopt a STEM, design-thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects, and problems that build upon each other and relate to the world around them. Students become creative, collaborative problem solvers as they engage in hands-on activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, they become creative, collaborative problem solvers.

PLTW Launch Funding and Curriculum
Project Lead the Way Gateway programs have been funded by generous donations at the following schools:

  • Lockheen Martin Funded PLTW Launch Schools: McMeen Elementary | 
Traylor Academy
 | Florida Pitt Waller Elementary 
| Dora Moore Elementary | 
Barnum Elementary 
| Math Science Leadership Academy
 | Edison Elementary | 
Swigert International School
  • Other PLTW Launch Schools in DPS: Oakland Elementary

Project Lead the Way Launch Curriculum*: Kindergarten Structure and Function: Exploring Design – Students discover the design process, identify products around them designed by engineers, and then design their own paintbrushes. Pushes and Pulls – Students investigate different pushes and pulls and apply what they know to a swing set-installation project. Structure and Function: Human Body – Students explore the relationship between structure and function in the human body and design a cast. Animals and Algorithms – Students explore the ways people control and use technology, as well as program their own digital animations. First Grade Light and Sound -Students investigate light and sound and design a tool to communicate over a distance. Light: Observing the Sun, Moon, and Stars – Students build upon their knowledge of light and design a playground structure that protects students from UV radiation. Animal Adaptions – Students learn about animal adaptations and apply what they’ve learned to design a shoe made for desert exploration. Animated Storytelling – Students build computational-thinking skills by creating animations based on their own short stories. Second Grade Materials Science: Properties of Matter – Students explore materials science and devise a way to keep popsicles cold – without a cooler. Materials Science: Form and Function – Students research the variety of ways animals disperse seeds and pollinate plants and use what they know to design a gardening device. The Changing Earth – Students explore how the surface of the Earth is always changing and design solutions for a fictional community threatened by a landslide. Grids and Game – Students learn about the sequence and structure required in computer programs and work in teams to build tablet games. 

Third Grade Stability and Motion: Science of Flight – Students learn about the forces involved in flight and design a solution to deliver aid supplies via an aircraft. Stability and Motion: Forces and Interactions – Students explore simple machines such as wheel and axles, levers, the inclined plane, and more and then use what they know to rescue a trapped zoo animal. Variation of Trails – Students investigate the differences between inherited genetic traits and traits that are learned or influenced by the environment and then model how the gene for a plant’s stem color is passed on. Programming Patterns – Students discover the power of modularity and abstraction and then use what they know to create a video game for a tablet. Fourth Grade Energy: Collisions – Students investigate how mechanisms change energy by transferring direction, speed, type of movement, and force and then use what they know to design a car safety belt. Energy: Conversion – Students learn how energy can be converted to meet a human need or want and then develop solutions to move donated food from a truck to a food pantry. Input/Output: Computer Systems – Students explore how computers work and create a reaction-time computer program to assess a baseline before a concussion occurs. Input/Output: Human Brain – Students learn about stimuli and responses and then use what they know to create a video to teach children about concussions. Fifth Grade Robotics and Automation – Students explore the ways robots are used in today’s world and then design a mobile robot that can remove hazardous materials from a disaster site. Robotics and Automation: Challenge – Students explore mechanical design and computer programming and design an automatic-guided vehicle to deliver supplies in a hospital. Infection: Detection – Students explore the transmission of infection and run an experiment to help find ways to prevent the spread of illness. Infection: Modeling and Simulation – Students investigate models and simulations and apply their knowledge to program a model that simulates the spread of infections. *Content was summarized from Project Lead the Way’s website and can be viewed in full here.

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