Polk County Middle to begin offering computer science courses as part of Amazon Future Engineer program

A partnership with Amazon will mean an exciting opportunity for Polk County Middle School students to begin developing computer science skills.

Polk County Middle School is now part of the Amazon Future Engineer program, which will bring support from Amazon to start offering computer science classes this fall to students.

With Amazon Future Engineer’s support, Polk County Middle School will offer Computer Science Explorations courses through curriculum provider Project STEM. Amazon-funded resources and support will provide preparatory lessons, tutorials and professional development for teachers, fully sequenced digital curriculum for students, and live online support every day of the week for teachers. These courses are designed to inspire, prepare and propel students in their pursuit of computer science education.

“We couldn’t have offered this curriculum without this grant from Amazon,” said PCMS Assistant Principal Nikki Honeycutt, who led the AFE application process. “We are thrilled to give our students this opportunity as they prepare to enter high school and apply to college and build the skills for a rewarding career in technology and innovation.

“This fully funded program will teach students Scratch coding, Artificial Intelligence and Python programming, which will engage them in career fields beyond their imaginations.”

Honeycutt said all Polk County Middle students will be eligible to take the classes, which will be taught in-person by PCMS staff members with Amazon engineers offering remote access as well as occasional in-person visits.

Scratch coding will be offered in the first year of the program, with the artificial intelligence course offered in the second year and Python programming available in the third year.

Polk County Middle School is one of more than 1,000 middle schools across the country who will be participating in Amazon Future Engineer, a national program aimed at making computer science accessible to all students. With more than 1,000 middle schools anticipated to join, Amazon Future Engineer will serve tens of thousands of middle school students.

Computer science is the fastest growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field, but only eight percent of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a tiny minority from underprivileged backgrounds. Underprivileged students are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school.

“We want to ensure that every child, especially those from underserved communities, has an opportunity to study computer science,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon. “We are excited more than 1,000 schools will now provide these courses, and look forward to adding 1,000 more schools over the coming months.”

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 more than 500,000 young people in more than 5,000 elementary, middle and high schools access to computer science courses; and 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.