All middle school students at McAuliffe study engineering and technology and engage with IB Middle Years Program design cycle through our Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program. (Review the IB MYP Design brief here.) PLTW’s Gateway to Technology curriculum includes foundation courses in Design & Modeling and Automation & Robotics during 6th grade, and specialty courses that build upon this foundation during 7th and 8th grades. This project-based curriculum allows students to envision, design, and test their ideas with the same advanced modeling software used by leading technology and engineering companies.
- Design & Modeling
Students are introduced to and use the design process to solve problems and understand the influence that creative and innovative design has on our lives.
- Automation & Robotics
Students use a robust robotics platform to design, build, and program a solution to solve an existing problem.
- Green Architecture
Students learn green architecture and construction, exploring dimensioning, measuring, and architectural sustainability. Students use the building design software Autodesk Revit to create custom plans. The course is divided into three sections: architecture basics, introduction to sustainable architecture, and an architectural challenge. The culminating project is designing a housing unit from a shipping container using principles learned in the course.
- Medical Detectives
Students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they collect and analyze medical data to diagnose disease. They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, measure and interpret vital signs, examine nervous system structure and function, investigate disease outbreaks, and explore how a breakdown within the human body can lead to dysfunction.
In 8th grade, students engage in a Capstone Design Course to demonstrate their accumulated knowledge in the areas of design and engineering. Through extensive use of the International Baccalaureate design cycle, students in this course will work to create an in-depth project in an area of specialization from the choices listed below and document an iterative design.
- Construction Arts
This hands-on course will develop student’s understanding and mastery in the materials, methods and processes of construction and carpentry. During the course we will develop the techniques and understanding to build projects such as tool boxes, bird houses, and furniture. There will be an emphasis placed on safety and craftsmanship of finished projects. Students will learn to identify materials and their characteristics, measure and lay out parts, identify and use common hand tools, and to bring a project to a finished state. Projects will be graded according to rubrics that emphasize quality control for the finished product.
- Computer Science, Design, and Robotics
- Advanced Robotics – This unit will build upon the student’s knowledge of robotics gained in their introductory course. It will focus on the automation of the control of a robot through the use of input sensors. Students will start with a standard platform and integrate the input sensors with advanced programming to autonomously complete task of increasing complexity.
- Introduction to Computer Science – In this unit, students focus on creativity and using an iterative design process as they create their own basic apps using MIT App Inventor. As students create their apps, they will be introduced to the computer science concepts of variables, iterations, functions and methods, and problem decomposition.
- Advanced Design – This project-based unit will give students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the design cycle through multiple iterations of prototyping. This unit is hands-on and requires students to work as a team and collaborate with others. Students will have the opportunity to create and design physical as well as virtual 3D prototypes.