Edgefield County students at J-E-T Middle School will soon have access to computer science courses that will give them an advantage in their education and future careers. The opportunity is made possible through a partnership between the Verizon Foundation and Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a nonprofit organization that provides transformative learning experiences for K-12 students and teachers through K-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. J-E-T joins more than 10,500 schools across the U.S. in offering PLTW programs to students.

J-E-T Middle School is one of 72 schools across the country receiving part of a $3 million grant provided by the Verizon Foundation for implementation of PLTW computer science curriculum. This is an expansion of a partnership that began in 2014 between the two organizations to increase students’ access to computer science curriculum and help students develop the in-demand knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the rapidly advancing, technology-based economy.

“Our students love the Gateway (PLTW) curriculum. The hands-on approach to science, technology, engineering and mathematics keeps them engaged and excited about learning,” said Debbie Courtney, J-E-T principal.

PLTW Gateway’s computer science units – App Creators and Computer Science for Innovators and Makers – are part of PLTW’s K-12 Computer Science pathway and are built on PLTW’s hands-on, project-based instructional approach. The units provide an opportunity for students to experience computer science in a relevant and engaging way, empowering them to solve real-world problems using the powerful ideas behind computational thinking, learn digital citizenship, and strengthen their critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. The program sets them up for further computer science learning via PLTW’s four-year Computer Science program in high school.

“Project Lead The Way is committed to preparing our nation’s next generation of problem–solvers and innovators,” said PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram. “In partnership with Verizon, we are significantly increasing the number of students who have access to high-quality computer science education and will be prepared for these growing career opportunities.”

The grant funds will be disbursed over a two-year period to offset startup costs associated with implementing the units. They will also support professional development for teachers and provide schools with equipment including tablets and software.