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Zizzer teacher to present PLTW to national audience Thursday


West Plains High School science teacher Nathan Fleming will give a presentation on Project Lead the Way (PLTW) in a national showcase Thursday, in order to showcase PLTW for school districts considering adding the S.T.E.M.-focused program to their curriculum or to improve existing science, math, technology and engineering programs by implementing the innovative practices of PLTW.

PLTW classes were first added to West Plains High School curriculum in 2016, in biomedical sciences, engineering, and computer science. Since then, Fleming has helped expand the biomedical program to include five classes, one for each year of high school, plus an introductory class in middle school.

In the biomedical classes, Fleming said, students consistently perform hands-on experiments with high-quality laboratory equipment, and hear from guest speakers, all while working with a rigorous real-world curriculum.

Thanks to an agreement with the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) Rolla, West Plains High School students can earn college credit with these classes, even as freshmen. Further, if students earn an 88% or higher in three semesters of high school PLTW classes, they also earn a customized white lab coat, presented at an annual white coat ceremony sponsored by Ozarks Healthcare.

Fleming has grown the PLTW biomedical program and it has attracted significant attention and regularly hosts teachers from other Missouri school districts who come to observe.

In 2021, the West Plain High School PLTW biomedical classroom was chosen by National PLTW administrators to host the very first live video classroom showcase. The following year, Fleming was presented an award recognizing him as National Outstanding Teacher for PLTW, and he began working with Missouri S&T to create a support network for PLTW biomedical teachers in south central Missouri.

In 2022, former West Plains High School PLTW biomedical student Madylin Cooper also received national attention by being featured as one of PLTW’s alumni spotlights, after being asked to continue an independent project developed at West Plains High School at Clemson University. She graduated high school in 2022.

This school year, Fleming directed the regional biomedical PLTW teacher conference at Missouri S&T, continues to be part of the biomedical advisory team for Missouri S&T and is focusing on improving systems to help his student-led classes be as independent as possible.

Students and parents interested in more information about the innovative program are encouraged to visit zizzers.org/biomed for more information.