Knox receives grant to start pre-engineering program; students to experience a new way of teaching and learning

The Kentucky Department of Education has announced that Knox County is one of eight districts to receive a Project Lead the Way grant to establish a pre-engineering career pathway next school year.

The award, totaling $75,000, will be used at Knox County Middle School and Knox Central High School according to public information director Frank Shelton.

“Knox Middle will act as a feeder program for the high school pathway as students gain basic knowledge of engineering concepts while working with hands-on projects,” said Shelton.

“Once they are a freshman at Knox Central, students will enter our career pathway which will build on their knowledge and skills each year through a sequence of rigorous courses in the pre-engineering.”

Students enrolling in pre-engineering in the fall will also be exposed to a new learning environment that district administrators say will help students make connections between career skills and content that they learn in their core classes.

“Our pre-engineering village will consist of the engineering class, an English class, and a math class,” said Shelton. “The three teachers will work together to plan relevant lessons that connect English and math to what students are learning in engineering.

Sophomore students entering the pre-engineering village when school resumes in August will be enrolled in a Introduction to Engineering Design course, Honors English II, and PCC Geometry. Juniors will take Introduction to Engineering Design, AP English III, and Pre-Calculus. Meanwhile, students at Knox County Middle School who are interested in pursuing engineering will take a Gateway to Technology course.

“The high school teachers will collaborate and set their own schedule while students are in the village. It may be one day the English teacher needs to spend more time on a project with students, and the other two teachers will adjust their instruction to accommodate the extra time students will spend in English.

“Likewise, if students are working on a project with their engineering teacher to enter into a competition, the English and math teachers will be able to adjust their schedule to allow students time to finish the project.”

While most of the grant money is earmarked for training and purchasing the curriculum and learning modules, the District is using match money to purchase new technology that will be shared in the village.

“We are looking at doing things differently in the village,” said Shelton referring to the technology plan that is in place for the pre-engineering program.

“Mobile technology, such as a laptop cart and iPads, can be shared among all three teachers since the classrooms are next to one another. An example of this would be students taking digital drawings that they design on the laptop in their engineering class with them to their math class, and the math teacher can help them calculate formulas for measurement, speed, or whatever math concept that would be used in the project.”

According to Shelton the District has posted a job vacancy for the pre-engineering position.

“We are looking for a creative, project-minded teacher who is willing to move away from the traditional methods of instruction to allow students to take control of their learning,” said Shelton.

“The Superintendent will start the interview process soon and hopefully we will have the right candidate hired in time for him or her to participate in trainings for Project Lead the Way that are scheduled throughout the summer.”

Other districts receiving the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering grant are Hancock, McCracken, Jessamine, Pulaski, Trigg, Henderson and Daviess County Public Schools.

“It is our goal to prepare next-generation learners for the high-paying, high-demand jobs that will make up the job market once they graduate high school and college,” said Shelton.

“Adding pre-engineering to our existing career and technical preparatory programs is yet one more way the school district is opening minds to a world of possibilities.”