MONTEVALLO—Gov. Robert Bentley visited Oak Mountain Middle School near Birmingham Wednesday, July 17, where he spoke about the importance of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) to a group of educators and members of the media.
Many of the teachers in attendance were there as part of AMSTI’s Summer Institute, which features training sessions facilitated jointly by the AMSTI programs at the University of Montevallo and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
AMSTI, the largest, most comprehensive and successful math and science initiative in the nation, works to improve the readiness of K–12 students for both college and career. Through classroom experiments and demonstrations, it helps students to become both visual and auditory learners.
“AMSTI-UM is very proud of the work that we are doing in this region to enable teachers to provide the best possible instruction to promote student achievement,” said Cissi Bernhard, director of the AMSTI program at the University of Montevallo. “Our program is based on Best Practice and has proven to be successful in empowering students with the understanding they need to build a strong foundation in science and mathematics. We continue to support AMSTI-trained teachers and look forward to moving into other schools as funding becomes available.”
Bentley noted that approximately 50 percent of the schools in Alabama are official AMSTI schools, and that in those schools with the program, math and science often move from least-liked subjects to most-liked among the students. He went on to state the importance of getting students excited about science and math, noting that this is a critical component in preparing them for both college and the work force regardless of their career paths.
“Let’s continue to make learning fun, so that kids will enjoy school, stay in school, get a good job, and have a good life, because that’s what education is all about,” said Bentley.
One of Bentley’s goals is to have the AMSTI program in every Alabama school, an effort that will require additional funding for the program.
“Every child ought to have the opportunity to learn the things that you see right here,” stated Bentley as he gestured to the biology, chemistry and physics demonstrations that were set up throughout the school’s media center.
Multiple years of external evaluations conclude that on every test given by the State Department of Education, AMSTI schools outperform matched non-AMSTI schools, often dramatically. Additionally, the Alabama-based program has been so successful that is has served as a model for STEM development in 21 countries in Europe, as well as in China, Russia, Mexico and South Africa.