Amazon Future Engineer Accelerates Sponsorship Program with BootUp Professional Development to Close Digital Divide, with Focus on Elementary Students in Historically Underrepresented Communities
Since receiving the Amazon Future Engineer Sponsorship in 2020, Hamilton County Schools has impacted over 7,000 elementary students through computer science initiatives
June 9, 2022, Chattanooga, TN. Hamilton County Schools was awarded the Amazon Future Engineer (AFE) + BootUp sponsorship in 2020. Since launching the program, Hamilton has successfully implemented comprehensive computer science curricula at 24 schools, impacting over 7,000 elementary students. CS instruction takes place once a week, during the school day. As a result, teachers are seeing students' confidence grow through experimentation, while building mastery in sequencing skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, and much more.
Michelle Bettis, Technology Integration Coach for Hamilton, commented, “Learning computer science skills early gives children agency over an increasingly complex and technologically sophisticated world. Coding offers a fresh perspective to approach learning in every subject! To be future ready, I believe every child should be encouraged to code! I am excited for elementary teachers in Hamilton County to join the Amazon Future Engineer initiative and to participate in BootUp’s Professional Development. I look forward to supporting teachers as they blend coding lessons with innovative teaching practices to grow the foundational computer science, engineering, and collaborative skills in students and themselves.”
The Sponsorship itself, allows program customization to whatever works best for individual districts and schools within those districts. In Hamilton, for example, some teachers have been integrating coding with the work they are doing in their VW elabs. Other teachers have started to use physical devices (using the Micro:bit) in addition to digital coding. Sierra Magee, for example, is great at differentiation, allows kids to have a voice in what they do, and encourages them to think critically, problem-solve and debug their projects when algorithms are not working the way they want them to. Sierra loves coding, and it’s contagious. She has been a wonderful inspiration to her students.
For each PD, Hamilton explored how to tie in Science, Social Studies, ELA, and math with computer science. And, in addition to classroom teachers, they also have elab specialists and librarians participating in this cohort. Teachers in this particular cohort have done a fantastic job leading by example and have been more than willing to share their experiences to help others learn from them.
"Powered by the Amazon Future Engineer + BootUp Elementary Computer Science Partnership, we have seen elementary teachers and students all over the country build confidence, increase joy in their learning and reach incredible levels of engagement in their pursuits. Every elementary student deserves this new literacy during the school day," said Clark Merkley, BootUp PD’s Executive Director
Early exposure to computer science and computational thinking helps develop students’ knowledge and skills needed to become creators and problem solvers using digital technologies. Marking the two-year partnership with Amazon Future Engineer and BootUp, students at Hamilton County recently celebrated by showcasing their projects to representatives from Hamilton, Amazon, BootUp PD, and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.
“Amazon Future Engineer is thrilled to hear how teachers continue to go above and beyond to reach young students and pique their interest in computer science,” said Victor Reinoso, Global Director, Amazon Future Engineer. “We are committed to offering high-quality curriculum, professional development, and benefits to support educators as they help their students build life-changing skills that leverage computer science and coding to bring their dreams to life, no matter what career they choose to pursue.”
Amazon Future Engineer and BootUp have teamed up once again to bring even more comprehensive support for districts who are ready to equip their students through future-ready skills and imagination. The primary program goal is to bring critical learning opportunities to district communities and empower those who can most positively, and brilliantly, effect change for centuries to come, historically underserved and underrepresented students. This three-year initiative at Hamilton is part of the broader Amazon Future Engineer program expansion to more than 5,000 schools nation-wide, 1,000 of which will be at the elementary level.
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 both 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 because it helps bridge equity skill gaps at an age when students are just beginning to formulate ideas about their futures.
Funding from Amazon Future Engineer delivers teacher professional development and curriculum from BootUp PD – a nonprofit professional development provider specializing in elementary school education – that focuses on high-quality computer science concepts, practices, and standards for teachers and students.
Learn more about how your district can get started with the Amazon Future Engineer + BootUp CS Sponsorship at www.afebootup.smapply.org.
About BootUp Professional Development
BootUp PD is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit specializing in district-wide elementary computer science initiatives that focus on creativity and problem-solving. Since 2015, BootUp has worked with over 650 elementary schools in fifteen states, directly impacting over 230,000 students. BootUp prepares teachers to facilitate open-ended coding projects that are project-based and personally meaningful. Students are empowered with creative and interactive curricula that allow them to explore their personal interests through coding with design, music, animation, games, or stories. Since 2020, BootUp has been a valued partner in Amazon Future Engineer’s “childhood to career” approach to education.
About Amazon Future Engineer
Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career computer science education program intended to inspire and educate millions of students from historically underrepresented communities globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning, using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Additionally, each year Amazon Future Engineer awards 250 students with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon, as well as names 10 Teacher of the Year winners, awarding $30,000 prize packages for going above and beyond to inspire students in computer science and to promote diversity and inclusion in the field. The program is currently available in the U.S., UK, France, Canada, India, and Germany. For more information, visit amazonfutureengineer.com.
About Hamilton County Schools
Hamilton County Schools includes 78 public PK-12 schools with a total enrollment of 44,444 students and over 3,000 teachers. Hamilton’s mission is to create pathways to bright futures for ALL students in their community by helping to equip them with the skills, knowledge and support required to realize their full potential. Hamilton is committed to a district-wide plan, known as “Future Ready 2023,” which outlines the work of Hamilton County Schools over the next five years. The District believes that their ultimate responsibility is to prepare students for life beyond high school. So, future readiness is the overarching theme that guides the decisions they make to support students towards graduation, beginning in Pre-K and progressing through their senior year in high school.