Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Integrated to Unlock Potential (AMP-IT-UP) is a partnership between the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) and the Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCS) that focuses on grades six through nine. In this project, students in these middle grades explore their creativity in STEM Innovation and Design (STEM-ID) courses, using rapid prototyping equipment located on GSCS campuses. Students become inspired and drawn into the study of STEM as they watch their creations become reality.
The mathematics, engineering and science modules developed in this partnership promote inquiry and situated learning which contextualizes STEM topics to demonstrate their relevancy to AMP-IT-UP students. Through extracurricular local and national clubs and competitions, student experiences are broadened and deepened. The clubs include Junior Makers and Innovation clubs that are mentored by GT faculty and students. This mentorship provides role models for the students and provides the personal touch that is so critical for student retention and self-efficacy. The competitions include robotic competitions such as FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics. Approximately 2,400 students each year participate in the exploratory STEM course modules with a total of approximately 1,200 participating in the extracurricular activities.
AMP-IT-UP is conducting research into various aspects of the impact of the STEM-ID courses on the students and their teachers. Some of the effects being measured include exploring how participation affects academic engagement, content understanding, knowledge transfer and student persistence in STEM. Another related research topic involves the implementation of the professional development of the teachers who are using the STEM-ID materials as well as the fidelity of the curriculum deployment. AMP-IT-UP is also developing a theoretical model for understanding changes to the complex system that is education by utilizing resources from an interdisciplinary team that includes experts in both engineering and the social sciences. Both core partners in this Math and Science Partnership illustrate the mutually beneficial nature of their work together. GSCS is being transformed by the middle school teacher development efforts that are enhancing teachers' ability to conduct experiential learning in their classrooms. The GT community is being transformed by a greater interaction with the middle school students and teachers, resulting in an increased emphasis on experiential and active learning environments in the GT undergraduate curriculum as well as an increased commitment to service learning among GT faculty and students.