$7.3M Program Aims to Get Teens 'Amped' About Manufacturing

The National Science Foundation has awarded the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Griffin-Spalding County School System a five-year, $7.3 million grant to enhance middle and high-school education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Invention Studio - Maker Bot
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Georgia Tech's Makers Club runs the Invention Studio, where equipment is made available to students for use on personal projects as well as coursework. Displayed are some "experiments" members of the studio created.

The initiative – led by Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering in collaboration with the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) – will introduce about 5,100 Griffin-Spalding County students in grades six through nine to advanced manufacturing learning experiences, such as working with robots and creating items using computer design and 3-D printers.

Called Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Integrated to Unlock Potential (AMP-IT-UP), the project aims to inspire students to study STEM topics, particularly manufacturing, by exploring their creativity and watching their creations come to life.   

“With AMP-IT-UP we hope to inspire all students to connect with STEM fields,” said CEISMC Associate Director and AMP-IT-UP Program Director Marion Usselman. “In particular, we want to catch those students who might be our future creative innovators but who are at risk of falling through the cracks in our current book and test-driven education.”

Student classroom experiences will be broadened by extracurricular clubs and competitions provided through the AMP-IT-UP project. Georgia Tech faculty and students will mentor Griffin-Spalding students in clubs such as the Junior Makers Club and robotic competitions including FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics.

Additionally, Georgia Tech faculty will be using the project for research purposes. They will be investigating whether STEM innovation and design courses impact students’ academic engagement, content understanding, knowledge transfer and persistence in STEM. Researchers will also study how professional development of teachers affects the deployment of the advanced manufacturing curriculum, and will explore and describe the barriers to change within educational systems.

“To develop and put into practice innovative approaches and strategies in math and science based on educational research is phenomenal,” said Griffin-Spalding County School System Superintendent Curtis Jones.

Georgia Tech and the school system have been awarded $2.9 million for the first two years of the grant, with another $4.3 million to follow in 2014.

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award Number 1238089). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.