APS News Release

Arlington Public Schools and Amazon to Launch an AWS Think Big Space at Wakefield High School

  • Wakefield's Think Big SpaceThis new, innovative educational space will provide interactive learning experiences, grounded in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and robotics, for students at Wakefield and across Arlington

ARLINGTON, VA – Oct. 14, 2021 – Arlington Public Schools, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) company, today announced a new educational lab will be built at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA, pending final approval by the Arlington School Board. The new AWS Think Big Space is a unique collaboration between Amazon, Arlington Public Schools, and private community sponsors to provide a dedicated space for students, educators, and communities to explore innovative and imaginative ideas through interactive hands-on technical education and cloud computing training.

“This lab will provide stimulating learning environments for students to work individually or collaboratively on entrepreneurial, STEAM, and Design Thinking projects,” said Wakefield Principal Dr. 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 AWS Think Big Space at Wakefield High School will serve as an “educational incubator,” utilizing cloud computing and various AWS and Amazon technologies. The AWS Think Big Space was named after one of Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles which states, “Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.”

Students and teachers will be encouraged to “Think Big” using their creativity and imaginations as they explore the infinite possibilities that these technologies offer. The AWS Think Big Space is an integrated environment where everything from the furniture, technology, and curriculum work together to support interactive hands-on learning. This space prioritizes personalized learning to engage students of all ages, interests, and abilities.

“At Amazon, we are committed to making a positive impact in the communities where our employees live and work,” said Brian Huseman, vice president, public policy for Amazon. “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, implementing a self-directed learning practice for students and teachers.

“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,” said Maitland. “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.”

Wakefield High School is the second AWS Think Big Space in Virginia. In 2019, Amazon funded and built an AWS Think Big Space at River Oaks Elementary in Prince William County.

Construction has begun on the AWS Think Big Space and this new educational space for students is expected to launch by the end of the year. Arlington Public Schools will oversee the new technology lab. The AWS Think Big Space will be presented to the Arlington School Board at tonight’s meeting and is expected to receive final approval at the meeting on October 28.

Amazon also supports local schools through Amazon Future Engineer, a global computer science education program designed to inspire and educate millions of students each year to try computer science and coding. The program supports more than 100 schools in Virginia with high-quality computer science curriculum, robotics clubs, and project-based learning, and also donated $3.9 million to CodeVA to expand computer science education and training to support 500,000 students and more than 10,000 teachers, particularly in historically underrepresented communities. Visit amazonfutureengineer.com to learn more.

About Arlington Public Schools
Arlington (VA) Public Schools educates one of the nation’s most diverse and sophisticated student populations. The school division currently serves almost 27,000 PreK-12 students who come from over 142 nations from around the world and speak 115 different languages. Academic standards are high, and students consistently score well above state and national averages on standardized tests, and the district is consistently ranked as a top school division by groups including The Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Niche®.