Hands on learning inspires St. Martin students

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - Project Lead the Way classes are not your normal high school classes. Instead of sitting at desks and reading from textbooks, students are tasked with projects that put their math and science skills to the test.

"I didn't really have any interest in engineering when I went into this class, but after I took it, I find it extremely interesting and I like it a lot," St. Martin High School Student Alyssa Britton said.

That is what Project Lead the Way is all about. The non-profit uses the hands on curriculum to get the students engaged and inspired.

Taylor Sexton loves the class. Recently, his team won one of the challenges.

"We had a big PVC pipe and we got a balloon and pulled it through and attached it with a rubber band," Sexton said.

In this classroom, students take the driver's seat; teacher Richard Humphreys just hands out the assignments.

"They seem to really enjoy it and I think my attendance is higher than most other classes. And if they are going to miss, they let me know in advance, unlike my other classes," Humphreys said.

These classes are currently being taught in 5,200 schools.

"Recently, I spent some time in China and they are graduating 24 engineers to our one," Senior Vice President of Project Lead the Way Rex Bolinger said. "That's concerning because we know engineers are the people that make our current products better and create jobs that don't exist today, so it's about our jobs, it's about our prosperity."

With Chevron becoming a partner with Project Lead the Way and committing $6 million over the next three years, even more students will be able to opt for the classes here in Mississippi and across the country.

Alan Sudduth with Chevron said, "It's not just filling those jobs, but filling those jobs with our local students, our friends and family across the community. That's going to be a real success for us."

"When I grow up, I want to have a job as a nuclear engineer or some other type of engineer," Sexton said.

Right now, St. Martin High School is the only school in South Mississippi offering Project Lead the Way classes, but that is expected to change next school year.

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