Press Club

Amazon is Building a Tech and Innovation Lab at Wakefield High School

A new tech and innovation lab funded by Amazon is expected to launch at Wakefield High School by the end of the year, according to Arlington Public Schools.

Construction is currently underway on the “AWS Think Big Space,” which will provide a dedicated space for hands-on learning in robotics, the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (known collectively as STEAM), and training in cloud computing-based technologies.

“This lab will provide stimulating learning environments for students to work individually or collaboratively on entrepreneurial, STEAM, and Design Thinking projects,” said Wakefield Principal Chris Willmore. “All students in grades 9-12 will be encouraged to extend their learning of STEAM topics beyond the classroom through engagement in the lab. We are grateful and excited that Wakefield was chosen by Amazon for this public-private partnership. All of our students will benefit from this learning environment.”

The Amazon-funded lab, which will open to students across the school system, also has the support of some private community sponsors.

Wakefield High School is first high school in the Americas to receive a Think Big Space, according to APS. It is the second in Virginia, after Amazon funded and built its first lab in 2019 at an elementary school in Prince William County.

Amazon has built similar spaces around the world.

“At Amazon, we are committed to making a positive impact in the communities where our employees live and work,” said Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy. “We are proud to call Virginia home and to support our neighbors as we grow in Arlington. This AWS Think Big Space at Wakefield High School will provide students across the community with the tools and connections they need to build, imagine, and innovate their best future. We can’t wait to see what they will create.”

Wendy Maitland, who most recently served as the Resource Teacher for the Gifted at Wakefield, will oversee the new space.

“We believe that this AWS Think Big Space will act as a significant point of access for students who may not normally take advantage, of or be aware of, STEAM career paths. At Wakefield, we are committed to eliminating opportunity gaps to ensure access and provide excellence in education for every student, especially first generation and low-income students,” she said. “Our partnership with Amazon will allow us to build a community of learners who collaborate, explore, and seamlessly apply technology throughout all aspects of teaching and learning.”

The AWS Think Big Space is expected to receive final School Board approval at a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 28.

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