INDIANAPOLIS, IN-- The research the students selected to attend the 2016 PLTW (Project Lead the Way) Summit national conference could not prepare them for the speed that opportunities would be presented to them.
Anthony Kirkland (AME '17), Rolando Quintero (AME '17) and Nolan Pelfrey (AME '17) were selected to attend the conference based on recommendations from their engineering teacher, Mr. Larson, and confirmation of their aptitude to keep up with work from other teachers including some dual enrollment professors. As soon as they had been selected, they began research about the keynote speakers, pouring over the possible workshops to attend and the various people they would potentially meet.
As soon as the group arrived, the hiccup of not having a room available played into their favor: it afforded them the chance to mingle among the attendees and PLTW leadership. The students were pulled into an orientation session for them to get familiar with the hotel, the meeting rooms and the ballrooms. The group as a whole got to spend about 45 minutes with the CEO and President of PLTW, Dr. Vincent Bertram and the first keynote speaker, Mr. John Urschel, a PhD candidate at MIT and a professinoal football player for the Baltimore Ravens.
After meeting with these two fantastic people, the students from Innovation Central were ushered to the interview room, where the media team asked them a number fo questions on their expectations, hopes and dreams for what enrichment this conference woudl provide them and what PLTW has done for them in their education. Being treated like celebrities was a bit overwhelming as the bright lights shone down on them, but they were cool in their demeanor ad poised in their responses.
After a delicioius chicken dinner, the students hada chance to hear about a "Mission to Mars" project byt he STEM Sisters from Hudson Middle School in Wisconsin and the formal speech of Mr. Urschel to the 1800 attendees, it was time for dessert and mingling in the exhibit hall. There they met with other students, were introduced to the other leaders associated with state delegations. They enjoyed perusing the exhibitors products and the desserts, all the while thinking about their impending chess match versus Mr. Urschel. After a 90 minute study hall, it was time for some sleep and a fresh start as Monday morning is their day to present to the general attendees.