Kentucky "Project Lead The Way" encourages young inventors

Kentucky - Project Lead The Way
Kentucky - Project Lead The Way
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Updated: 3/07/2013 12:25 pm

Lexington, Ky. Five Kentucky Project Lead the Way (PLTW) high schools are sending a total of 12 teams to the University of Kentucky this month to compete in an "Intellectual Property Pitch Contest," sponsored by the University of Kentucky Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship and the Foundation for Kentucky Industry.  Set for March 14, the competition will be held in the Davis Marksbury Building on the UK Campus.  

The UK College of Engineering is the PLTW Affiliate University for the Commonwealth responsible for the three-pronged mission of Education, Credit and Quality of the Pathway to Engineering and Biomedical Sciences programs implemented statewide.  Currently there are 130 programs across the state reaching approximately 10,000 students.

The contest is a pilot program of the PLTW Kentucky initiative, which supports biomedical sciences and engineering pathways in high schools across the state. 

“PLTW encourages students to consider postsecondary pathways they might otherwise have overlooked," said Dianne Leveridge, director of the program. "The curriculum, aligned to national math, science and language arts standards, has been selected by the Kentucky Department of Education as an ‘accelerator’ for secondary students.  The students enrolled in PTLW courses are making stronger, longer-lasting connections between academics and practical application of those academics; higher percentages tend to pursue and persist in STEM pathways, particularly engineering and pre-medicine; and outperform their non-PLTW peers once in postsecondary educational pathways.  Students who choose non-STEM careers find they are better prepared, regardless of their chosen postsecondary endeavors.” 

Project teams are comprised of a minimum of two or maximum of three PLTW juniors or seniors who have a potentially patentable idea — a unique, creative solution to a problem — that they are developing within the PLTW Pathway to Engineering courses. Each team will have five minutes to present their idea to a panel of judges of entrepreneurs, engineers, businesspeople and educators. The presentation will be followed by a five-minute question-and-answer period.

Projects will be judged on the basis of the strength, creativity and uniqueness of the idea or technology; a description and knowledge of the target market and revenue model (how the venture will make money); and the overall quality of the students’ presentation skills.  PLTW develops these skills within secondary students through the rigorous, relevant, hands-on, project- and problem-based curricula.  Many students enrolled in PLTW courses across the Commonwealth develop their postsecondary choices earlier, due in large part to the extensive career research across the broad fields of engineering and health care within each PLTW pathway. 

The team with the winning pitch will receive a $500 prize Thursday, March 14.  In addition, the students are writing an essay describing how their PLTW teacher encourages them to think in a "global entrepreneurial manner," and the best essay will earn a $500 prize for the teacher.

"Learning to pitch your idea to investors, customers, and strategic partners is a critical part of the entrepreneurship process," said Dean Harvey, executive director of the Von Allmen Center. "This pitch competition will give the students an opportunity to practice their five-minute pitch and get feedback from three experienced mentors."

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