The Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) is the Alabama Department of Education’s initiative to improve math and science teaching statewide. Its mission is to provide all students in grades K-12 with the knowledge and skills needed for success in the workforce and/or post-secondary studies.
The premise behind AMSTI is that students learn math and science best by doing math and science, especially when they are able to relate it to their daily lives. Schools apply to become official AMSTI Schools and, when accepted, agree to send all of their math and science teachers and administrators to two-week-long Summer Institutes for two consecutive years. At the elementary level, where most teachers are self-contained (teaching all subjects), entire faculties attend the institutes.
AMSTI provides three basic services:
- Professional Development in math and science
- Equipment and materials
- On-site support
Each AMSTI teacher receives 120 contact hours of subject and grade-specific professional development during the Summer Institutes. Teachers conduct all of the hands-on activities they will eventually perform with their students at the institutes. Then, upon returning to their school, they receive all of the equipment and materials needed to engage their students in hands-on, activity-based instruction. Equipment ranges from plastic cups and cotton balls to cutting edge technology like mass spectrophotometers, DNA replicators, gel electrophoresis equipment, graphing calculators, GPS devices, nuclear scalars, etc. The resources are often delivered to the school in unit tubs referred to as “kits.” As the kits remain at the school only when needed, they can be rotated for use by multiple teachers and schools, making excellent use of fiscal resources.
Following Summer Institutes, full-time AMSTI math and science specialists from the 11 regional AMSTI Sites mentor the teachers in their classrooms until the newly trained teachers become comfortable with the “AMSTI way” of teaching. Classroom teachers say this support is invaluable in helping them become proficient with AMSTI. Each AMSTI Site also runs a large Materials Refurbishment Center where all of the kits from the region are refurbished to “like new” condition before being sent to the next teacher. AMSTI Sites resemble large warehouses where used kits are refurbished to like-new condition before being sent back out to teachers. Each AMSTI site is responsible for conducting the Summer Institutes for newly accepted schools within the region and training any new hires at existing AMSTI Schools. Each AMSTI site is partnered with an institute of higher education (university/college). This partnership facilitates the involvement of university faculty with K-12 teachers.
For more information, go to www.amsti.org.
AMSTI at Athens State University
AMSTI-Athens was established in 2008. We serve 29 schools and over 500 teachers in these ten school systems: Athens City, Blount County, Cullman City, Cullman County, Decatur City, Hartselle City, Lawrence County, Limestone County, Morgan County, and Oneonta City.