Amazon is funding computer science education and teacher professional development for 42 elementary schools in Hamilton County Schools, impacting more than 21,700 students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech as part of its Amazon Future Engineer program. Hamilton County Schools is part of Amazon Future Engineer’s expansion to more than 5,000 schools, 1,000 of which will be elementary schools.
Amazon is working with BootUp PD, a nonprofit professional development provider specializing in elementary school education, to bring computer science to each school. BootUp PD’s typically in-person professional development sessions adapt well to a virtual model and provide teachers with the tools they need to bring engaging coding lessons to their students on-screen and in-person.
High-quality computer science education for elementary school students during their school day is a critical piece of Amazon’s “childhood to career” approach. The program helps bridge equity skill gaps at an age when students are just beginning to formulate ideas about their futures.
“Amazon’s funding of computer science education in elementary schools through their Amazon Future Engineer program will help the district reach our goal of providing future-ready students prepared for success after graduation,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “Computer skills are vital for young people, and the early start in this program for our elementary children will reap benefits while the students are in school and as they move forward in a college or career after they leave high school.”
“We are excited to learn that Hamilton County has been selected as one of the latest school districts to join Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon’s computer science education program,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “I’m excited that 42 of our elementary schools will receive computer science curriculum and teacher professional development from Amazon to ensure more of our young students have access to this important skill set. I look forward to the time when we can once again spend time at our schools and talk with teachers who will quickly benefit from this Amazon-funded program to learn how their new knowledge is positively impacting children. For now, I’m thankful this computer science adventure can begin virtually.”
Amazon’s commitment to Hamilton County Schools is part of its $50 million investment to increase access to computer science/STEM education across the country, primarily through Amazon Future Engineer. Also, Amazon has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education. Already in Tennessee, there are more than 60 high schools and more than 80 elementary schools participating in the Amazon Future Engineer program.
“We’ve been incredibly impressed with the stories we hear of elementary school teachers going above and beyond to keep their young students engaged, learning and smiling, especially during these difficult times,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon. “As students from across the country begin school – whether virtually or in-person – we are confident that Amazon Future Engineer’s focus on younger students in need will be a helpful tool for teachers as they prepare all of their students for a bright future.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon employees volunteer virtually in Amazon Future Engineer classrooms, talking to the students about the importance of their computer science education. Amazon Future Engineer also launched the Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge – a free, virtual, first of its kind coding competition that teaches students the basics of computer science in the context of a real-life industry challenge.
"This opportunity will close equity gaps by ensuring computer science learning opportunities for students in under-served communities throughout the nation,” said Clark Merkley, BootUp PD’s executive director. “It is the first ongoing national sponsorship focused on implementing sustainable, district-wide computer science. We’re extremely proud to be a part of something that will have a measurable, positive impact for decades to come."
This story was originally pulished in The Chattanoogan
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