Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Seattle Public Schools today announced a new partnership to bring computer science and robotics to up to 30 Title 1 Seattle Public Schools as part of the Amazon Future Engineer program. Amazon is providing each of the schools with an Amazon Future Engineer Robotics grant to inspire the next generation of computer scientists, with a focus on students from underrepresented and underserved communities. Each of the schools will receive support to launch FIRST robotics teams, including teacher professional development to learn about robotics, support from Amazon to expand access to computer science education in their school, and a private tour of an Amazon robotics fulfillment center in Kent, Washington.
The mission of FIRST, curriculum provider for Amazon Future Engineer Robotics grants, is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills to students in grades K-12. Data from a 5-year longitudinal study of FIRST by Brandeis University shows competitive FIRST robotics programs works for all youth. Across all demographic groups (gender, race, economic status and geography), FIRST students show significant gains in STEM knowledge, STEM interest, STEM career interest, STEM identity, and STEM activity compared to their peers who don’t participate. FIRST students are more likely to major in tech-focused science fields in college; by their second year of college, over 50 percent declare majors in engineering or technology. The impact on young women in FIRST is particularly profound. By their first year of college, female alumnae of FIRST are 3.6 times more likely to take an engineering course, and 1.9 times more likely to take a computer science course than female comparison students.
Seattle Public Schools is committed to creating opportunities for students who have historically been the furthest from educational justice; these students have also been underrepresented in STEM careers. They recognize the positive impact the partnership will have on educators, teachers and coaches to learn new skills and new ways of applying standards-based teaching in a new environment.
“This partnership with Amazon will give our students of color the opportunity to see engineers who look like them – which provides a huge benefit and creates a quicker course to students imagining a future in a STEM field,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau. “Creating educational journeys like these help ensure our students are prepared for college, career, and life.”
“Seattle is our hometown, and it’s very important to us to make sure more students in our city, especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities have access to an exciting and rewarding computer science education,” said Beth Galetti, Amazon Senior Vice President of Human Resources. “We are excited to help Seattle Public Schools students become the innovators of the future, and we’re confident that this hands-on experience provided by Amazon Future Engineer will be both fun and informative.”
“Amazon is helping FIRST in our goal to make robotics teams and programs available in every school,” said Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST and president of DEKA Research & Development. “In FIRST, every kid on every team can go pro. They gain a hands-on learning pathway in technology, computer science and engineering that propels them forward and inspires innovation.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs. Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a tiny minority from underprivileged backgrounds. Students from underprivileged backgrounds are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school.
More locally, the Washington Business Roundtable has reported that a large number of hundreds of thousands new jobs being generated in the Seattle area will be STEM-related. Moreover, the Puget Sound Business Journal stated in their January 6, 2016 edition that Washington isn’t producing enough qualified workers to supply talent-starved tech companies.
Launched in November, 2018, 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 careers in the fast-growing field of computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire more than 10 million kids to explore computer science; provide over 100,000 young people in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science courses; award 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships, as well as offer guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience. Amazon Future Engineer is part of Amazon’s $50 million investment in computer science/STEM education. In addition, Amazon Future Engineer has donated more than $10 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country.
Schools currently confirmed to participate are as follows:
High schools – Rainier Beach High School
Middle schools – Denny Middle School, Washington Middle School
K-8 schools – Broadview Thomson K-8 School, Licton Springs K-8 School, South Shore PreK-8 School
Elementary schools – Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Beacon Hill International Elementary School, Captain Stephen E. Sanislo Elementary School, Concord International Elementary School, Dearborn Park International Elementary School, Dunlap Elementary School, Emerson Elementary School, Hawthorne Elementary School, Highland Park Elementary School, John Muir Elementary School, Kimball Elementary School, Leschi Elementary School, Lowell Elementary School, Madrona Elementary School, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Olympic Hills Elementary School, Sand Point Elementary School, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, Van Asselt Elementary School, West Seattle Elementary School, Wing Luke Elementary School
About Amazon in the Community
Amazon is committed to helping all children and young adults, especially those from underrepresented and underserved communities, have the resources and skills they need to build their best future. Amazon focuses on building long-term, innovative, and high impact programs that leverage Amazon’s unique assets and culture. Initiatives include Amazon Future Engineer, designed to inspire and excite 10 million children and young adults from underrepresented communities each year to pursue an education in computer science, as well as programs that support immediate needs, including fighting childhood hunger by providing access to millions of breakfasts through its nationwide Rise and Smile program, addressing family homelessness through donations and housing a homeless shelter in its Seattle headquarters, and global relief efforts for people in need following natural disasters.
About Seattle Public Schools
Seattle Public Schools is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps for students furthest from educational justice and providing a high-quality, world-class education for each of the nearly 53,000 students served. As part of its 2019-24 district strategic plan, the district is committed to building out new career and technical education (CTE) course pathways in STEM-related areas as a way of helping these students develop college and career readiness.
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $80 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST LEGO League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST LEGO League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST and FIRST Washington, the state non-profit that runs the programs and supports team, go to firstwa.org.
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