Clint Small, Jr. Middle School


Building a Strong Foundation for High School, College, and Career

Each PLTW Gateway unit engages students in activities that not only build knowledge and skills in areas including computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, but also empower students to develop essential skills such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and perseverance. 


What is Project Lead the Way?

It's collaborative. It's creative. It's critical thinking. And it's all centered on the most vital fields of learning and essential professions needed in the world today and tomorrow. What educators call STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Step through the door, and you'll experience an approach to learning that fuels imaginative thinking, creative problem solving and innovative solutions - just the kinds of skills that will help you succeed in your education and beyond.

The hands-on, project-based program engages students on multiple levels, exposes them to subjects that they typically would not pursue, provides them with a strong foundation for achieving their academic goals in any chosen field of study and, if pursued, establishes a proven path to college and career success in STEM related industries.

  • High school credit can be earned in this program. Students may earn .5 high school elective credit by taking the yearlong GTT course: Design & Modeling/ Automation & Robotics and an additional .5 credit by taking Magic of Electrons & Science of Technology, during middle school for a total of one high school elective credit.


6th Grade Courses

Flight & Space / Energy & the Environment (year-long course)

Flight and Space

The exciting world of aerospace comes alive through Flight and Space. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build, and test an airfoil.

Students in Flight and Space will be introduced to the history of flight through hands-on activities and research. They will also design an aircraft or spacecraft as they discover the science of flying, design and test propulsion. They will complete activities while learning about the history and principles of space travel. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build and test an airfoil. Projects include, building a hot air balloon, building different types of rockets and designing and building a glider.


Energy and the Environment

Students are challenged to think big and toward 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.Students will design and create solar cars, conduct a water audit and research the effects of composting, reducing, reusing, and recycling our waste products.


7th & 8th Grade Courses

Design & Modeling / Automation & Robotics (year- long course and prerequisite for Magic of Electrons and Science of Technology)


Earns .5 high school credit

Design and Modeling

Students discover the design process and develop an understanding of the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They are then challenged and empowered to use and apply what they’ve learned throughout the unit to design a therapeutic toy for a child who has cerebral palsy.


Design and Modeling teaches the steps of the Design Process and how this helps to solve problems. Sketching and Dimensioning, teaches students to identify and create perspective, isometric, and orthographic sketches and to dimension them correctly.


Students use Autodesk® Inventor® to learn how to create 3D models. Challenges include things such as creating a toy or a piece of furniture. The winner of various challenges will get a 3-D model of their design to take home.


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 apply what they know to design and program traffic lights, robotic arms, and more.


Automation and Robotics gives an understanding of what robots are used for and the effect they have on our lives. Students will learn about mechanical and automated systems by using VEX components and ROBOTC programming language to build, model and test solutions to automated problems.  Students are presented with design and building challenges. Examples of design challenges included, building a windmill that can grind grain, building a car that can be two-wheel or four-wheel drive and designing, building and programming a car to follow a line, run autonomously or by remote control.


Medical Detectives / Green Architecture (year-long course)

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.


Students investigate medical careers, vital signs, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, as well as human body systems such as the nervous system. (includes sheep brain dissection). Genetic testing for hereditary diseases and DNA crime scene analysis (students solve a murder mystery by doing get electrophoresis) put the students in the place of real life medical detectives.


Green Architecture

In this course, 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 using Autodesk’s® 3D architectural design software.


Green Architecture shows students that in a world of increasing costs, from construction materials to energy use, it is important to expose the next generation of builders to the concept of “being green.” In the wake of a hurricane, tsunami, or forest fire, many affordable homes are needed quickly; students will learn how to provide necessary housing and repurpose otherwise unused building materials.


8th Grade Course

Magic of Electrons / Science of Technology


Earns .5 high school credit

Magic of Electrons


In Magic of Electrons you will get an introduction to basic electricity; where it comes from, why it works and how it is produced and transmitted. Through hands-on projects, students explore the science of electricity, the behavior and parts of atoms, circuit design, and sensing devices. Examples of project include, building a DC motor, soldering components together to create a night light and using knowledge of electromagnets to build a Morse code machine. Snap circuits are used to design and create multiple electrical challenges. Students acquire knowl­edge and skills in basic circuitry design and explore the impact of electricity on our lives.

Science of Technology

Science impacts the technology of yesterday, today, and the future. In this course, 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. We look at the science behind roller coasters (designing and building challenges), creating and testing glue, the basic science behind cleaning up an oil spill (creating and cleaning included).


Computer Science

Introduction to Computer Science 1

In this course, students discover the principles of this fast-growing field. They 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

In ICS 2, students continue to explore the fundamentals of the stimulating career path of computer science. They venture into text-based programming through Python and develop an app to crowdsource and analyze data on a topic of their interest.