Andy Baker: I stated my experience with the class and also the experience of my many friends who have taken it and asked themselves the question, “wtf did I just do that for?”. In no way did I mean to imply (did I?) that the PLTW situation in our high school is what all PLTW courses are like in other schools. However, the curriculum is the same and looking through it, I found that I either knew it or could experiment with it during some free time rather than devoting a year-long course to it. The analogy of taking up a calculus book and memorizing it seems somewhat harsh. One does not become smart by memorizing and I don’t learn the PLTW curriculum by reading the huge textbooks which are never finished by the class. In my free time, I will have fun working with electronics, machining, or as I mentioned, looking at how mastercam works and then taking the time to go and do it for myself. Without doing anything, those memorized facts dissipate as fast as the sunshine here in Ithaca
For our team, the students in the Inventor class get through their projects pretty quickly, and then they start working on FIRST stuff (heh… the teacher is on the team, and he has read these Forums for 4-5 years now). So even the motivated students can take the course, get ahead, and work on FIRST-team related stuff in their class time.
^^ In reference to that, that is one point that I tried to make. Many robotics members are in PLTW courses and as you said, they get through the activities quickly and thereby don’t pick up anything new from the CLASS itself. They instead go and work on robotics (the teacher is also on team and also ok with it) but that is not the course! So, what I’m trying to say is, the course itself didn’t teach them that much as Kristen mentioned: “I seriously learned nothing in that class that I didn’t easily teach myself. And most of the people in my class played games…”
My opinion still stands that the course is not a worthwhile pursuit for anyone doing robotics (considering how motivated and dedicated you have to be to work hard for 6 weeks) but may be for some people who have no engineering experience. However, even those people without any experience also seem to find the courses easy. I spend many of my free periods in the tech rooms (to work on robotics) and I note that people are rarely at work, and if they are yelled at enough to actually do some work, they do it quickly. I think PLTW would be a much better course if it required more out of the students. Otherwise, as Kristen mentioned, the students just play games, talk, and listen to music. Now, that may suggest to you that the teachers can’t control the class and to a certain extent, I find that true. But even when work is handed out, the people in the course whisper or put on their headphones. The situation of PLTW at our school is as mentioned, and that is what dez250 seems to be asking about. I cannot tell dez250 whether he’ll have a wonderful experience at his school with PLTW or whether he’ll be bored like us. But in any case, that is my experience and Kristen’s (I won’t vouch for anyone else’s but I can track down more people if you’d like further testimonies of class experiences) and it is not a worthy one.