Project Lead The Way

At Quince Orchard High School, we have a team of talented teachers working with an incredible group of students and parents to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the high school setting.  See our outreach flyer, Course Descriptions and Extracurriculars Flyer, and QO PLTW promo video for details about why Engineering is important and what you can do at QO and beyond!  You can also get more information about local opportunities in Engineering and Computer Science in our online folder.

April 2018 Letter Home with End of Course Assessment Information, AP+PLTW Recognition Info and College Credit Information.

What is Project Lead The Way (PLTW)?

Project Lead The Way is a non-profit organization based in Clifton Park, NY that has created a hands-on, project-based engineering curriculum for high schools and middle schools and biomedical sciences courses for high schools.  The courses are designed to "engage students on multiple levels, expose them to areas of study that they typically do not pursue, and provide them with a foundation and proven path to college and career success." (

PLTW Distinguished School 2017-18PLTW Distinguished School 2017-2018 & 2020-2021

Twice Quince Orchard HS has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished School 2017-2018 and 2020-2021 for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through PLTW Engineering. Both times QO was one of just over 100 high schools across the U.S. to receive this honor. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves millions of K-12 students and teachers in over 10,500 schools across the U.S.

What courses does QO offer?

How to Make it Work – With all of the courses offered at QO, it is important to start planning as an 8th grade student to ensure that you make the most of your high school career.  See the PLTW Coursework Plans to determine how to schedule your 4 years at QO, combinations include PLTW along one or more of the following - AP Distinguished Scholar Recognition, the AP Computer Science (CISCO, Gaming, or Programming) Pathway, AP Signature Art, AP Signature Music, AP Signature Social Studies, or Law and Society.  Fuller descriptions of each course and extracurriculars with PLTW is available in our PLTW at QO flyer.

  • Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), taught by Florence Chukwurah and Derek Sontz - designed for 9th and 10th grade students, this introductory course focuses on the design process and its application while students learn to use 3D modeling software and work in teams.
  • Principles of Engineering (POE), taught by Omari Sarjeant - designed for 10th grade students, this second year course explores a variety of topics including mechanisms, energy, statics, materials, and kinematics while developing and applying problem-solving skills.
  • Digital Electronics (DE), taught by Mr. Mario Castillo - designed for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students, this is the third course in the series which focuses on using combinational and sequential logic design and their use as the foundation for all modern electronic devices. 
  • Aerospace Engineering (AE) taught by Derek Sontz - designed for 11th and 12th grade students, this is an option for the fourth course in the series which explores the fundamentals of atmospheric and space flight through hands-on projects.  Students also use industry-standard software to learn mechanics and design their projects.
  • Environmental Sustainability (ES), taught by Deb Haase - designed for 11th and 12th grade students, this is an option for the fourth course in the series which uses hands-on projects related to clean and abundant drinking water, food supply issues, and renewable energy to engage students in engineering design problems, simulations, research projects and design projects.
  • Engineering Design and Development (EDD), taught by Omari Sarjeant - designed for 12th grade students, this fourth year course serves as the capstone for the PLTW series where students work to design and develop an original solution to a valid open-ended technical problem by applying the engineering design process.

What opportunities are available to students?

The PLTW program at QO is constantly growing, we are currently working on getting the fourth and fifth years of the program in place, while working with our students we have two student groups focused on PLTW students, the Cougar Engineering Club and Girls in Engineering.

  • Robitics / Engineering Club - sponsored by Omari Sarjeant, this group explores the fields of Engineering while allowing students within the difference PLTW courses to meet and work together to solve different problems and work on different projects.  The club also has teams competing in the FIRST Robotics competitions and the CyberPatriots competitions.
  • Women in Engineering - sponsored by Deb Haase and Derek Sontz, this group explores the role of Women in Engineering while promoting getting more girls involved, helping girls work together, offering support and tutoring for each other.
  • National Technical Honor Society - sponsored by Colleen Adams, this honor society is designed for students that are taking classes in a variety of technical fields.  There are many opportunities for students to receive scholarships while offering guidance to other students taking technical classes and networking with individuals and companies in our community.

College Credit Through RIT

Rochester Institute of Technology has partnered with PLTW to offer College Credit (3 credits per class) for 3 of the courses we offer at QO.  Students need to maintain an 85% marking period average for all four marking periods and score at a certain level on the End of Course Assessment exam in each course.  The grade assigned by RIT is based on the student's score on the exam (A, B, or C) if they score within the defined ranges.  More information about scores/grades can be found online along with details about the registration process to apply for college credits.  There is no money required before taking the exam, students that score well and wish to apply can do so after taking the course, RIT has a deadline of mid-November of the following year to apply.

How can I get involved?

QO is nationally certified as a PLTW school as of Spring 2012.  Our engineering program was visited by staff from UMBC and MSDE in March of 2012 and we met all the criteria needed to be an accredited engineering site!  We completed the re-certification process in the fall of 2017.  During and beyond the certification process not only are the staff teaching the courses involved but we have a team of students and community members who we work closely with.  PLTW courses are designed to involve the whole community in the learning process providing students with links to the real-world and a diverse and knowledgeable support system.

  • Students - TAKE A COURSE!  If you're interested, talk to a teacher, talk to a friend in the course, talk to your counselor - we're all happy to answer your questions.
  • Parents and Community Members - we are always looking for volunteers to help with our clubs, speakers interested in talking with students about Engineering, internship sponsors for our students either during the summer, during the school day, or after school.  If interested in getting involved, please contact one of the teachers.