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AMSTI making difference in schools

A national research study has found “extremely positive” results with the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI).

That good news was announced recently by Steve Ricks, AMSTI director with the Alabama Department of Education. AMSTI concentrates on inquiry-based math and science.

Started in 2006, a $3-million study by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) reviewed AMSTI work. The study “will likely become a landmark study. It is one of the largest randomized control studies of its kind in math and science,” Ricks said in a press release.

Ricks congratulated AMSTI teachers, many of which teach in Madison City Schools, for helping “make this happen. We wanted to express our thanks (for what) you’re doing to help students.”

At Discovery Middle School, Kelle Moody teaches seventh-grade science and is an AMSTI teacher. “From a science point-of-view, the goals and objectives of AMSTI are to make available to public schools (teachers and students) a sequence of learning activities that fully address the National Science and Math Standards,” Moody said.

Students can engage directly with “the tools of math and science to solve real-world problems and design challenges,” Moody said. “Students can build on their prior knowledge and experiences, allowing them to practice and use problem-solving strategies in new contexts.”

Almost daily, Discovery students use the scientific method to solve these problems. “I feel, as a teacher, these are critical skills needed in the real world, working real jobs. It gives them daily opportunities to use hands-on skills with these activities and labs,” Moody said.

Educators designed AMSTI to improve math and science studies with interactive practices teaching. The USDE study shows the program succeeds in these objectives, she said.

Liberty and Discovery middle schools have applied AMSTI for 10 years. Moody has seen student’s interests and knowledge increase tremendously.

“It’s not just about reading a textbook and answering questions,” Moody said. “It’s about applying what we’re learning to real situations using all different types of lab equipment. I absolutely love it. I don’t ever want to go back to teaching the ‘old’ way.”

For more information, visit amsti.org.

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