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Carson Middle School selected as an Amazon Future Engineer school

October 28, 2021

Greensboro, Ga. — The Greene County School System is pleased to announce that Anita White Carson Middle School has been selected as an Amazon Future Engineer (AFE) school - a partnership between Amazon and Project STEM to improve access to computer science education in communities currently underrepresented in the technology field.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, by the end of 2020 there were 1.4 million unfilled computer science related jobs and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs. Many students eager to fill that gap and obtain a high paying job in technology do not have access to computer science in their middle and high schools. Often schools want to offer these courses to their students but do not have access to curriculum and/or teacher support materials. Amazon and Project STEM are partnering to address the information technology skills gap by sponsoring teachers and administrators who demonstrate this need and are committed to bringing computer science to their school.

"We are excited for the opportunity to develop a culture where we can see the unlimited potential of students and share with them that the possibilities are endless for their future," said DeAndra Lanier, CMS Principal. "Over the next few weeks, months, and even years to come for Carson Middle School, the addition of STEM activities, Computer Science courses, and a focus on lessons that ask ‘why’ will develop thinkers, creators, problem solvers, innovators, and inventors. I am very thankful for a faculty and staff who are willing to embrace such opportunities for students and have a vested interest in their future."

The Amazon program, which will be offered to all students in grades 4-7, is just one part of CMS's overall plan for becoming a STEM-focused school, which will begin by piquing the interests of students through afterschool STEM programs, STEM Nights, STEM field trips, and affording students an opportunity to showcase their STEM projects.

The process of transforming CMS into a STEM-focused school began in spring 2021 when CMS teachers Ashley Bridges and Shelly Deen won a grant to participate in a summer training program on artificial intelligence at UGA. The grant was awarded to middle school teachers at schools from traditionally underserved populations in STEM and AI topics. In the workshop, they not only worked with UGA faculty to create teaching and learning materials to use in their classroom, but also involved CMS students in creating lesson plans and testing STEM activities. These teachers have been implementing the resulting STEM materials in their classrooms as a pilot program since August, and now, the school is ready to take the effort school-wide, to every student.

In collaboration with GCSS Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Dr. Laurie Weaver, the school plans to formally kick off its school-wide STEM initiative one day per week after school starting the first week in November, with the hope to incorporate it during the school day starting in January. Through the STEM program, students will learn about the Engineering Design Process, as they work on Coding, Robotics, Lego Robotics, and Computer Science (Amazon Grant Curriculum) programs, along with activities such STEM-based field trips and competitions. During the 2022-2023 school year, students in grades 6-8 will have an opportunity to enroll in a Computer Science class, which will include coding and STEM related activities.

“I’m beyond excited about our school receiving the Amazon Future Engineer grant,” said Heather Hulett, CMS’s media specialist, who applied for the grant and interviewed with Amazon and Project STEM for the award. “I am very passionate about providing this opportunity to our students to allow them to build life-changing skills that will help them leverage computer science to propel their futures.”