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Wheatland School Receives National Recognition as a Distinguished School for STEAM

Wheatland Center School announced today that it has been recognized as a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Distinguished School for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through PLTW Gateway. It is one of just 176 middle schools across the U.S. to receive this honor. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves millions of PreK-12 students and teachers in over 12,200 schools across the U.S.

 “Wheatland's STEAM programming has grown from just three PLTW Gateway program topics offered to middle school students in 2011-2012 to the eight topics we currently offer all of our middle school students along with the addition of the PLTW Launch program to our elementary students.  Our students are able to engage in the scientific and engineering processes and we have seen tremendous growth in their abilities to think critically, solve problems, and collaboratively create," said Megan Zirbel, Wheatland’s STEAM Coordinator.

Wheatland has been using the Gateway middle school Curriculum for nearly 10 years, and has added additional classes each year. Middle school students have the opportunity to take part in amazing classes like Automation and Robotics, Design and Modeling, Flight and Space, Medical Detectives, Green Architecture, Science of Technology, Energy and the Environment, and Magic of Electrons. In addition, last year Wheatland School District added the Launch Curriculum at the elementary level to provide a STEAM foundation for all Wheatland students.

Through PLTW programs, students develop STEAM knowledge as well as in-demand, transportable skills that they will use both in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take. PLTW Gateway empowers students to lead their own discovery and uncover a range of paths and possibilities they can look forward to in high school and beyond. For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit

Wheatland is part of a community of PreK-12 schools, colleges and universities, and corporate and philanthropic partners across the country united around a passion for providing students with inspiring, engaging, and empowering learning opportunities. For more information about PLTW’s recognition program, visit

Wheatland’s Principal, Drew Halbesma said, “It is very gratifying to see our students engaged in so many collaborative and rigorous opportunities around STEAM education. Megan Zirbel has built this program from the ground up and it is a tribute to her skill, knowledge, and expertise that Wheatland has received this national recognition. She has engaged multiple other teachers in this journey and it has allowed us to become a leader in the area. STEAM education is the curricular foundation for our district, and it provides an amazing opportunity for Wheatland students.”

For more information on Wheatland PLTW Gateway program or to set up a school visit, contact Mr. Halbesma at 262-537-2216.


Left:  Hailey Harpster and Right:  Jessica Roynon during Medical Detectives Sheep Brain Dissection


Left:  Megan Zirbel with Right:  Dylan Becker

Top Picture Left to Right:  Venily Young, Jessica Roynon, and Beth Nickolette analyze data to test the effects of insulation on water cooling.


Bottom Picture:  Mrs. Zirbel’s homeroom students



Middle School Students lead elementary students through the design process in order to create their own bubble gum recipe as part of Wheatland’s “It all STEMs from Literacy” day.