Students teach during "Project Lead the Way" tour

MILWAUKEE -- Two dozen school leaders from across Wisconsin paid a special visit to Milwaukee's Escuela Vieau School Thursday, one of the leading MPS schools taking part in the "Project Lead the Way" program.

Instead of learning from the teachers, eighth graders from Escuela Vieau School taught school leaders the basics of engineering. "They're seeing the kids work in robotics, electronics and also new projects showing weatherization and energy conservation," Lauren Baker, Milwaukee Public Schools Technical Education Coordinator said.

25 educators toured the school's new technology lab, where students design their way through the learning process. "We have to make a car, so we started out with the pull toy.  We have to build gears to pull it and everything," eighth grader Isabel Lezama, a "Project Lead the Way" student for two years said.

"Project Lead the Way" is a program implemented in schools nationwide to help students learn science, math, technology and engineering, or STEM, through hands-on projects and activities. MPS has participated in the program for six years and has seen success in the form of student achievement. "We have 28 schools and 5,500 children involved in the program," Baker said.  "We're seeing kids that are in this program achieving at the levels that the state of Wisconsin achieves at, and they are achieving beyond MPS kids at almost double the rate."

Many of the students involved in the project have also moved on to four-year engineering colleges.

The educators taking part in the tour Thursday are hoping to take away some lessons to hopefully implement in their own districts. "We've got to help our kids get on board and be ready for 21st century learning, and that involves the technology our kids have," Teresa Earleywine, President of the Brodhead School Board said.

The 25 educators also toured Bradley Tech High School, where they got to see the school's Computer Integrated Manufacturing lab.