AMSTI makes learning fun

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More than 300 teachers from 13 state school systems descended upon Thompson High School July 10-21 to participate in the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative Summer Institute.

AMSTI provides teachers with ongoing training and the equipment and materials needed to teach math and science using hands-on, activity based instruction.

Shelby County&8217;s district operates under the guidance of the University of Montevallo’s Regional In-service Center.

During the two-week long workshop, teachers conducted experiments, including water quality tests at Buck Creek and soil sampling at Ebenezer Swamp.

Teachers also trained with portable weather stations using a global positioning system and completed various other experiments thoroughout the county.

The idea behind the program is that teachers can incorporate the hands-on experiments into their classrooms, according to AMSTI Director Rebecca Richardson.

The program also has the backing of Gov. Bob Riley, who hopes AMSTI will improve the math and science education in Alabama.

&uot;This initiative works because with AMSTI, students don’t simply read about math and science; they experience it in the classroom,&uot; said Riley, at a recent AMSTI Leadership Academy.

&uot;AMSTI brings a higher level of enthusiasm to students and helps heighten their interests in learning.&uot;

Tests scores show that students attending AMSTI schools score higher in math and science than students who attend non-AMSTI schools, according to the governor’s office.

Riley has proposed record funding increases for AMSTI, bringing its total budget up from less than $300,000 in 2003 to $22 million for the next fiscal year. Only 73 schools had AMSTI in 2004. When classes resume this fall, the total of AMSTI schools will be 329.

This year was the first summer institute held at Thompson High School. Participating Shelby County Schools were Calera Elementary, Vincent Middle/High School, Pelham High School and Montevallo Elementary School. Statewide, almost 2,400 teachers are going through AMSTI workshops this summer