New Paltz High School students in Alexis Mallory’s Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Engineering Design and Development (EDD) class recently presented their team capstone projects. PLTW is an innovative project-based learning program that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math (pltw.org). The projects are the culmination of a year-long process in which students were tasked to address a problem and create a solution for a working prototype.
Three teams presented their solutions for their projects to an audience of parents and guardians, classmates, school and District administration, and Engineering professor Michael Otis from the State University of New York at New Paltz, who served as a consultant for the class.
Student project presentations included a backpack folder organizer which efficiently stored folders and papers in an easily expandable, removable, auto-opening accordion system. Another presentation offered a countertop tumbler-style composting system powered by solar energy, through either an integrated lighting system or a window-mounted solar panel.
One team presented an idea for an automated commercial window washing system. Although there were technical difficulties, it was clear that it could work with slight modifications–such as the scientific process. Otis reminded the team that even his college students have projects that don’t work the first time. “Ultimately the thought, process, and learning behind the project are sometimes more important than the prototype,” he said.
“EDD is not intended to be an ‘invention class’ or a ‘patent-generating class,’ but rather a class that centers on using, documenting, and working through the engineering design process to address a problem,” said Mallory.