In a time of trouble, Amazon moves to support STEM education

Editor’s Note: This story, adapted from a report in the April 2020 print edition of The City Sentinel newspaper, documents this spring’s start of a new science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) education program from Amazon. 

Amazon leadership announced over recent weeks that they were closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 and working to support local communities, customers and employees during a difficult time.
Schools in Oklahoma are experiencing disruption during the health pandemic and Amazon leaders say they want to help. Evidence supports the assertion: Year-round, Amazon is committing resources to ensure more students and teachers get access to a computer science education through the “Amazon Future Engineer” program.

Amazon Future Engineer is providing free access to sponsored computer science courses in the U.S., which is for independent learners grades 6-12, and teachers who are remotely teaching this age group. (Parents can also access this curriculum.)

Amazon Future Engineer is offering a virtual robotics program through partners CoderZ. The fully sequenced course accommodates age levels from second grade with block-based coding to high school with text-based coding. 

Amazon Future Engineer also is providing access to EarSketch, a free program that helps students learn to code through music. Grammy-award winning artists Ciara and Common have both provided studio-quality music STEMs that students can remix from home using code.

State private schools have pioneered online learning approaches for several years, and some began offering second semester education programs on the original “back-to-school” date of March 16. Other private schools followed soon thereafter, on March 23. 

Then, after the March embrace of “distance learning” by the Oklahoma Board of Education, Oklahoma’s public charter schools with a pre-existing online presence got back to work.
By last week – as of Monday, April 6 – school leaders in all systems within Oklahoma were focused on making “Distance education” or “Online learning” or other approaches work. 
Interest in offerings from Amazon and range of technology companies soared over the past month and featured widespread news coverage –- including not only The City Sentinel’’s print edition (which was available in late March), but in television news broadcasts and a range of stories  in The Oklahoman and other newspapers. 

Oklahomans are checking into the offerings Amazon has made at this link: 
( The effort is broad-based and many are signing up for these programs, and checking out more free computer science programming being added by the Amazon Future Engineer team.

Visit here ( for a blog post about the Amazon-specific new offerings, characterized by the company as intended to support community members, employees and customers affected by COVID-19.

About Amazon Future Engineer: Amazon is committed to bringing more resources to children and young adults to help them build their best future. Amazon has invested more than $50 million to increase access to computer science/STEM education and has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country. Amazon’s primary computer science access program, 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 try computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire hundreds of thousands of young people to explore computer science; awards dozens of schools Amazon Future Engineer Robotics Grants, provides over 100,000 young people in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science courses; awards 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships, as well as offers guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience, and forms unique partnerships with trusted institutions to bring new coding experiences to students – for example, in 2019, Amazon Future Engineer sponsored a music-based coding remix competition with Georgia Tech on their EarSketch platform.

Note: This story is adapted from the April 2020 print edition of The City Sentinel newspaper, and appeared online here: . Publisher Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report. He is a member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the author of hundreds of news stories and analyses of education, and a state-certified teacher in 10 subject areas.