Project Lead the way & the Arts

Missouri Alliance for Arts Education

Project Lead the way & the Arts

an article by Harlan Brownlee - National PLTW presenter

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) 'Launch' STEM Curriculum plus arts integrated related instruction allows students to engage and persist in problem solving and gives students valuable opportunities in which to grow and learn.

Arts Integration techniques employ mutually reinforcing concepts to support the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) STEM related curriculum. Creating an artistic product is a process where students are required to rehearse, elaborate, and create meaning for an audience. The added novelty of creating an artistic product contributes to a student’s ability to remember material and reinforces a student’s capacity to communicate and collaborate as well as think creatively and critically. Arts Integration techniques employ mutually reinforcing concepts to support the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) STEM related curriculum.

When we integrate the arts into the STEM curriculum, we create more meaningful and interesting experiences for students. Integrating the arts with the STEM subjects provides tremendous benefits as students work to embodying STEM related concepts and processes. Students demonstrate their understanding of STEM concepts when they must represent these ideas with any of the art forms. Both the arts and STEM subjects share in common the skills of observation, informed decision making, paying attention to relationships and proportion, and the patience to observe processes of change over time. The use of the arts can also create new interests in STEM related subjects by presenting them in a new or novel way.

When students create artistic work using STEM concepts and watch or perform their artistic work for each other, it changes their perspective on the problem to be solved or understood. It has the potential to generate new questions that generate new solutions.

PLTW - STEM + Arts Integration
in action

Project Lead the Way Lessons in the "'Launch' STEM Curriculum" utilizing Arts Integration facilitated by Harlan Brownlee. For more information about these lessons visit

A STEM + Arts Integrated approach fosters creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. These students are better prepared for employment that requires broad access to multiple methods of communication, and strategies for creativity and collaboration.

Harlan Brownlee understands the transformational power that the arts have to improve the quality of life for individuals and the community. He has worked for thirty-five years in the arts education field as a performing artist, teaching artist, and arts administrator. Mr. Brownlee received his B.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and earned an M.A. in Educational Research and Psychology from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. He has an extensive performance background and currently serves on the Credentialing and Professional Development Committees for the National Young Audiences – Arts for Learning Network. Brownlee is on the Kennedy Center’s National touring roster for the Partners in Education program and Changing Education through the Arts. He has conducted master classes, workshops and residencies extensively and was awarded a Young Audiences National Residency Teaching Artist Credential and is a frequent presenter for Project Lead the Way’s National Conferences.

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