Series of computer monitors set against a blue background with code across the top

AMAYS project teaches students IT skills

Three College of Education faculty received a $537,514 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project that will allow local middle school students to learn what it’s like to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Brendan Calandra, Jonathan Cohen and Maggie Renken will partner with After-School All-Stars Atlanta and the Technology Association of Georgia Education Collaborative on the Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM (AMAYS) project, the main goal of which is to broaden the number and diversity of youth who are prepared for and willing to enter the STEM workforce.

Teams of students at multiple After-School All-Stars sites will work with their teachers, AMAYS staff and corporate mentors from the technology sector in Atlanta on information and communications technology (ICT) curricular tasks, both in person and within a custom-built online environment. Students will explore subjects like web and app development, digital communications and information systems while developing 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity/innovation and collaboration.

AMAYS student groups will also be prepared to compete in ICT competitions, such as the TAG-Ed Middle School Web Challenge, which asked this year’s participants to choose a topic they believe will have a major impact on society over the next few decades and design a website around it.

Over the course of the project, Calandra, Renken and Cohen will examine whether AMAYS students have developed targeted knowledge and skills, and whether their perceptions of STEM/ICT and related careers have changed.

“The AMAYS project is designed to engage urban middle school aged students here in Atlanta in an authentic, technology-rich learning environment outside of the formal classroom,” Calandra said.