The ribbon was cut Monday for Amazon’s new “AWS Think Big Space,” a STEM-focused tech lab, at Wakefield High School.
The lab is located on the ground floor of the school at 1325 S. Dinwiddie Street and is divided into several technology stations, including 3D printing, E-sports, cybersecurity, virtual reality, coding robots Sphero and robotics.
Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera, APS Superintendent Francisco Duran, School Board Chair Reid Goldstein and County Board member Matt de Ferranti all gave speeches at the opening ceremony and joined the lab tour.
Many of the officials believed that the new lab would better prepare students for future careers in STEM.
“We truly believe in the necessity and the importance of creating opportunities for our students,” Duran said in his speech.
“In Arlington County, there are many businesses and jobs that are available to students who leave our school system not prepared to enter into that workforce. It’s our duty, it’s our responsibility to create those skills and pathways for students to be able to access those jobs,” he added.
Wendy Maitland, a teacher at Wakefield High School, is set to become the manager of the lab. She planned to offer the space to teachers there to assist in their teaching.
“For example, if they want to do something in terms of astronomy, they can come down and use the program on the VR,” Maitland said.
She also is planning joint programs with the nearby Barcroft Elementary School at the lab. Other Arlington schools are also expected to use the space.
Maitland approached Amazon for funding to create a STEM lab two years ago. Donor and local apartment building owner Ralph Johnson joined her effort, she added.
“We created a presentation, they liked it and they came back to us and said, ‘Yes, work with our AWS team because they have the Think Big Spaces,'” Maitland said.
Amazon chose to build its Think Big Space at Wakefield because the high school is the “neighborhood high school” for employees working at Amazon HQ2, Arlington School Board Chair Reid Goldstein said.
“At Amazon, we’re proud to call Virginia home, we’re committed to making a positive impact in the communities where we’re located,” Amazon’s Vice President of Economic Development Holly Sullivan said in her speech.
Wakefield High School is also the most diverse high school in Arlington and the second most in Virginia, Guidera said, adding that she believed building the STEM lab there would be “a great opportunity” — especially for children from underrepresented communities — to access “innovative spaces like [the lab] that make learning comes alive and also expose students to the future of work.”
Although no concrete plans have been drawn up yet, Amazon is considering exchange programs for students engaged in the 35 Think Big Spaces across the world, including India and Ireland, Sullivan said.
The lab will operate as a public-private partnership, with financial support from large local employers like Amazon, Guidera said.
Amazon contributed $150,000 and Johnson gave $109,000 to build this lab. The School Board approved its construction last October, according to School Board documents.
A similar lab funded by Amazon was built at an elementary school in Prince William County is 2019, but Wakefield’s is the first to be built in a high school in the Americas, according to material from a School Board presentation.
ARLnow has been providing independent, in-depth coverage of Arlington since 2010. We are committed to keeping readers informed about the issues that matter most to the community, including those that…
Residents of The Shelton, an affordable housing development in the Green Valley neighborhood, are raising concerns about property management and poor treatment of residents. They previously raised these same issues…
This spring, Arlington County began buying up properties in the Waverly Hills area to combat flooding. Already, despite some concerns about how the program would work, three residents have agreed…
The local civic figure who was beaten after trying to intervene in a domestic assault says he doesn’t want jail time for his attacker. Adam Theo suffered serious injuries after…
Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, June 7th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!
A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
Mason Square hosts dynamic weekly programming and ongoing special events, open to the Mason and greater Arlington community. All activities are free and open to the public. Join us at Mason Square today!
Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved
Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved.
Join ACFCU’s mortgage loan officers
4th of July Celebration & Fireworks
Treat yourself this Independence Day with a world-class, private 4th of July extravaganza at the Military Women’s Memorial – a premier National Capital Region site.
Great food, fun, and the best views of Washington DC’s spectacular fireworks display. Relax, enjoy,