Amazon Funds Computer Science Education
February 9 2021 · By Beaumont ISD
Amazon is funding computer science education and teacher professional development for all Beaumont ISD elementary campuses, impacting more than 4,870 students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech as part of its Amazon Future Engineer program.
Amazon is working with BootUp PD, a non-profit professional development provider specializing in elementary school education, to bring computer science to each school. BootUp PD’s professional development sessions provide teachers with the tools they need to bring engaging coding lessons to their students both on-screen and in-person.
“Our staff understands that STEM and computer science helps to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps sometimes found in math and science fields,” said Marinette Parkerson, BISD STEM Coordinator. “As our program continues to grow with Amazon and BootUp PD, we want both staff and students to understand that learning now is pertinent to their future and the future of the whole world.”
High-quality computer science education for elementary school students during their school day is a critical piece of Amazon’s “childhood to career” approach because it helps bridge equity skill gaps at an age when students are just beginning to formulate ideas about their futures.
“This opportunity is important because it encourages STEM and computer science learning early in our elementary school students,” said Parkerson. “It will produce a strong foundation, which will play an important role in our student’s being globally competitive and will leverage the playing field for them by removing any obstacles and/or hindrances associated with exposure to the advancement of the field.”
As part of the initiative, Amazon Future Engineer will be sponsoring micro:bit classroom packs for each district to further their students’ exposure to hands-on computer science learning opportunities. BootUp will also support teachers with additional physical computing professional development to ensure they are set up to successfully integrate the technology into student learning and allow students to see their code in a more tangible, physical way.
“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.”
“I’m excited for Beaumont ISD to join the Amazon Future Engineer program to offer computer science curriculum and teacher professional development to their hard-working teachers and smart and curious students,” said State Representative Joe Deshotel. “Computer science is an increasingly important skill that will help ensure more of our young students – especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities – can compete and succeed in a high-tech workforce.”
Amazon’s commitment to Beaumont ISD is part of its $50 million investment to increase access to computer science/STEM education across the country, primarily through Amazon Future Engineer. In addition, Amazon has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education.
Amazon’s primary computer science access program, Amazon Future Engineer, is a four-part childhood-to-career program intended to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to pursue computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire 550,000 K-12 students across more than 5,000 schools to explore computer science through elementary school curriculum, middle and high school courses, and teacher professional development; awards 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships, as well as offers guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience; awards $25,000 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Awards, and forms unique partnerships with trusted institutions to bring new coding experiences to students. Recently Amazon, Pharrell, his education equity non-profit YELLOW, and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced a new collaboration called “Your Voice is Power” to encourage middle and high school students to share their voice on equity while learning to code new music remixes.
“I’m excited because the Amazon BootUp PD program gives our students at BISD an advantage to compete for employment,” said Shamine Cormier, K-8 Career Readiness Specialist. “Thank you to Amazon for helping us bring 21st-century skills to our students to create a more marketable workforce here in Beaumont, Texas. Every student will be career-ready.”