Middle School Engineering Program
PLTW-WI Sponsor/Partner Spotlight

Middle School Program: Gateway to Technology

Gateway to Technology (GTT) is an activity-oriented program designed to challenge and engage the natural curiosity of Middle School students. The academic curriculum is rigorous and fun.

Careers in science and engineering require curious, imaginative people who like to move around, solve problems, and create machinery and equipment. These careers are team oriented allowing each participant to bring their special knowledge and talent to the project. Scientists and engineers make rockets go into outer space and delicate probes which repair a beating human heart. The Gee Whiz factor in these careers is high.

Middle School Students

The bottom line for Middle School students is they get to be active in the classroom. They have the curiosity, energy and sociability of scientists and engineers. The GTT program allows them to learn and apply the wonders of science and technology to the world they experience every day. Students matriculating from GTT will be fully prepared and excited about progressing to the High School Curriculum.

Teachers and Counselors

Project Lead The Way offers teachers and guidance counselors the requirements for initial Core Training on specific course curriculum, curriculum updates and continual professional development.  Core Training provides teachers with the knowledge to utilize and teach the PLTW technology, software and associated curriculum. Classes are taught by master teachers and affiliate professors who bring hands-on teaching experience to the classroom. Teacher training is provided through one of the 36 affiliated colleges and universities. In Wisconsin that is Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Some grants and internships are provided by business partners. Teachers may pursue Graduate Credits after completing PLTW training.

Other professional development opportunities are provided for school counselors and administrators as they implement and expand the PLTW program in their schools. Teachers play a vital role in PLTW’s success as role models and through their enthusiasm. Since 1997, PLTW has trained about 13,000 teachers.

Program Summary

GTT is divided into eight independent, nine-week units. You may start with as few as three units: Automation & Robotics, Design & Modeling, and one additional unit. These can be spread from grades six through eight or taught in either seventh or eighth grade. Performance objectives and suggested assessment methods are built into each unit.

Study Units

GTT includes introductory and an advanced units.

Gateway to Technology Foundation

Design and Modeling introduces students to the design process. Using design briefs, students create models and documentation to solve problems.

Automation and Robotics explores the history and development of automation and robotics. While teaching students about structures, energy transfer, machine automation and computer control systems.

Energy and the Environment investigates the importance of energy in our lives and the impact using energy has on the environment.


Gateway to Technology Specialization

The Magic of Electrons gives students the opportunity to explore the science of electricity, the movement of atoms, circuit design and sensing devices.

The Science of Technology teaches students about the mechanics of motion, the conversion of energy and energy transfer.

Flight and Space developed with NASA, introduces students to the technology of aeronautics, propulsion and rocketry.

Medical Detectives allows students to explore the biomedical sciences through hands on projects and labs that require the student to solve a variety of medical mysteries.


Assessing Achievement

When taught in conjunction with courses that explain the world at large such as economics, history, government and the Fine Arts, the GTT curriculum is highly successful. Students learn that science and engineering are not isolated from society. Studies show that the ability to see the big picture, an increase in attendance, higher test scores and an increase in G.P.A. are directly correlated with PLTW course completion.

After taking PLTW’s GTT curriculum, specific, immediate student achievements would include:


PLTW alumni are studying engineering and technology at colleges and universities at rates approximately five to ten times the average of all U.S. students.  They also have higher retention rates in college engineering, science and related programs than other students studying in these areas.