Gov. Bentley endorses AMSTI

By CLARKE STACKHOUSE / Staff Writer

OAK MOUNTAIN—The Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative hosted Gov. Robert Bentley July 17 at the annual AMSTI Summer Institute held at Oak Mountain Middle School.

Tables throughout the OMMS library were set up to demonstrate different science experiments AMSTI provides to participating schools in biology, chemistry, and physics.

Bentley made his way around the library learning about each one of the experiments.

At the physics table, Bentley was shown a noise device called the thunder drum which made a thunder – like noise when shaken lightly. “I bet kids love this, don’t they?” Bentley said. “They seem to always love noise.”

AMSTI director Steve Ricks said the governor’s visit would help broaden the reach of AMSTI.

The program is an international model for math, science and technology development and instruction for the classroom, Ricks said.

During Bentley’s first week of office, Ricks said he and the governor hosted more than 20 international representatives to learn about AMSTI.

Ricks said AMSTI provides participating schools, students and teachers in Alabama with the knowledge and resources to make learning fun in the areas of math and science. He also said it is the largest and most successful math and science initiative in the nation.

The AMSTI Summer Institute provides instructors across the state hands on experience of AMSTI by participating in classroom situations.

The schools that have participated in the program have seen more than an 11 percent increase in Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test proficiency since 2005, Ricks said.

He said 50 percent of schools in Alabama participate in AMSTI.

“We need about $10 million next year and $8 million the following year to participate in all schools,” Ricks said.

A wide understanding of math and science is needed for everyone to successfully hold a job, Ricks said.

Ricks said a skilled workforce trainer once told him, “Our kids don’t know how to use a ruler, and you teach them how to use a ruler.”

When Bentley addressed the room, he thanked teachers for their work.

“I want to thank every one of y’all for what you do,” Bentley said, “A lot of you only get arrows shot at you and deserve thanks.”

Bentley said AMSTI is extremely important in creating a fun learning environment for both the students and teachers.

He said he learned so much from just visiting the different AMSTI classes earlier that morning.

Bentley said he especially enjoyed dissecting owl pellets and learning about the owl in an unusual way.

“We need to make learning fun so kids will enjoy school and stay in school,” Bentley said.

He said he wants to see the program expand throughout the state and be a part of every school, along with the Alabama Reading Initiative.

“AMSTI is just as important,” he said. “We need to contribute, and we need to put money into the program.”