Amazon helps Scanlan start computer science program

A local high school has received assistance in jump-starting their computer science program from one of America’s largest corporations.

Monsignor Scanlan High School was selected from a large group of applicants by tech behemoth Amazon to be a part of a new outreach to high schools nationwide: the ‘Amazon Future Engineer’ program.

The program, officially launched in November, afforded Scanlan the opportunity to start its own computer science program and provided the software and support necessary to bring the learning of coding and computer programming to the school.

Jennifer Tulipano, a Scanlan science teacher, said that assistance from the Amazon Future Engineers program has helped her teach courses she otherwise would not have been able to add to the curriculum.

The school now offers ‘Introduction to Computer Science’ and ‘Advanced Placement Computer Science Principals’, she said.

“We turned what were two physics classes into computer science classes,” said Tulipano. “The children were thrilled about it.”

The curriculum includes not only programming and coding, but also information about the history of computer science and how technology is evolving, she said.

“Many students did not think that they could go into this field and now some are applying to college with the intention of majoring or minoring in computer science,” said Tulipano. “It has changed their whole career path.”

A computer program called Edhesive allows teachers who may not have computer science backgrounds to teach the courses, she said.

“It comes with a vast support system for both the teachers and students as they are learning,” said an Amazon spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman said that Amazon Future Engineers operated for a year and a half as a pilot before it was officially launched on Tuesday, November 1.

The spokeswoman said that it includes four components:

• an elementary and middle school component with coding camps and tutorials

• a high school component that helps ‘Title 1’ schools (and those serving high-need populations) implement computer science classes with a goal of reaching 2,000 schools and 100,000 students.

• a scholarship program that provides college students planning to major in computer science a $10,000 grant for each of four years of college

• an internship program at the tech juggernaut for college freshman and sophomores.

While the high schools chosen for Amazon Future Engineers typically tend to be public schools, Scanlan has many students who are on scholarship and who otherwise would have gone to high-needs public schools, she said.

“Amazon is focused on making sure all children and young adults have the resources and skills to build their best and brightest futures,” said the spokeswoman. “Improving and increasing access to STEM education and computer science is a big piece of this as coding is the language of the future – it is just as important as learning how to read for the future generation of innovators and we want to make sure all students have this opportunity.”

Scanlan students also participated in a nationwide media campaign that accompanied the program’s launch called a Satellite Media Tour, said Tulipano, where students were filmed in class for future broadcasts around the country.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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