Amazon brings computer science to Woodlake

Castle Rock has been named as one of 1,000 elementary schools to be sponsored by Amazon’s Future Engineer program  

WOODLAKE – The market for computer science professionals is projected to grow twice as fast as the rest of the labor market over the next few years, giving students another career field to work towards. Castle Rock Elementary will begin exposing their students to the field at a young age after being chosen as one of 1,000 elementary schools that will benefit from Amazon’s Future Engineer program.

The Future Engineer program is a part of Amazon’s commitment to supporting underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in the tech industry. On Sept. 15, Amazon announced that it is extending the program’s reach to include to more than 5,000 schools in the country. They will be funding computer science education and teacher professional development to benefit nearly 500 elementary school students enrolled at Castle Rock. Amazon is working with BootUp PD, a nonprofit professional development provider specializing in elementary school education, to bring the curriculum to each school.

According to Castle Rock Elementary principal Jason Trevino, computer science classes have the potential to increase their student’s chances at attending top universities or securing jobs in high paying career fields.

“The power of providing these learning experiences to children at such a young age will benefit them greatly throughout their educational journey and after they graduate high school,” Trevino said. “We have an opportunity to provide a special program for the kids of Woodlake that they may not have gotten from anywhere else.”

The goal at Castle Rock is to be able to provide every student on campus an opportunity to learn computer science, which is something that was not previously available. Eventually they want to make the subject a part of a student’s normal instructional schedule every week. They’ll likely start with third through fifth grade and then work towards a district wide K-12 program.

In addition to this program, computer science has been a major focal point for the entire Woodlake Unified School District (WUSD).  At the beginning of last school year, Woodlake Valley Middle School debuted their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) Center which is stocked with 3D printers, green screens, electronics and other tools. Now the district is working on transforming all of their libraries into more STEM Centers, beginning with Castle Rock. This is an initiative that Superintendent Laura Gonzalez is thoroughly excited about.

“We believe strongly that our students are going to need these science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills upon graduation to be competitive,” Gonzalez said.

The district hopes to have the Castle Rock STEM Center complete by the fall of 2021. As for the Amazon Future Engineers program, the school has to first worry about getting students back on campus. After that happens, then they’ll be able to start implementing the program by working out a schedule that allows every student to be exposed to computer science.

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