AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

AWS Educate Hosts Cloud in the Classroom Day

Over 50 AWS volunteers were excited to collaborate with the Clark County School District (CCSD) on our inaugural AWS Educate “Cloud in the Classroom Day” earlier this month. We worked with 68 students on sessions such as Gaming in the Cloud, Alexa Voice Skills, and Cloud Careers at Rancho High School and Cimarron-Memorial High School in order to support the workforce and economic development of the community around Las Vegas, NV. Following the workshops, the AWS Educate team met with CCSD faculty and staff to brainstorm ideas for bringing cloud into high school curriculum. And to cap off the activities, Kylie Pratt, high school senior and president of the globally-ranked Cimarron Robotics Team, and her coach, Jenny Stensrud, joined Teresa Carlson and Helen Sun, VP Motorola Solutions, to provide insights on girls, technology, and the high school curriculum.

Highlights from the Cloud in the Classroom

  • 30 students at Rancho High School customized a Jumpy Fish Game running on AWS by adding new graphics, hacking the leaderboard, and setting up new top score notifications using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon DynamoDB, and AWS Lambda.
  • 38 students at Cimarron-Memorial High School developed new voice skills for Alexa by creating a Lambda function in the AWS console and a new voice skill with the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) in the Amazon Developer Portal.
  • After the technical workshops, students from both schools learned about careers in cloud and got a chance to quiz Amazonians on what they do and why they like working at Amazon.
  • AWS Educate facilitated a roundtable with 20 CCSD faculty and staff led by Gia Marie Moore, Director, Magnet Schools and Career and Technical Academies, CCSD, and Dr. Jesse Welsh, Academic Manager of Innovative Learning Environments, CCSD, for an initial discussion of the cloud, preparing students for the cloud workforce, and the best path to integrate the cloud into career and technical education (CTE) curricula for CCSD. This includes targeting existing classes, developing a multi-course curriculum, providing professional development, and integrating free cloud “sandboxes” for students into the project-based learning environment.

Rancho High School’s “Gaming in the Cloud” workshop

The workshop used a modified version of Jumpy Fish. The students logged in to the AWS console, used S3 to upload a new sprite for the game, used DynamoDB to hack the leaderboard and insert a new high score for the game, and add a function call (pre-configured) in a Lambda to send out a text message notification of a new high score. The students customized the game images with clever graphics and inserted whimsy into the leaderboard. Two students worked in a separate exercise to “hack” the game. Following the workshop, students attended a “Cloud Careers” session.

Cimarron-Memorial High School’s “Create Your Own Voice  Skill’ workshop

This workshop used Alexa and Lambda with an Amazon Echo. Students explored the AWS console, used S3 to download files for the labs, created a Lambda function, explored the Amazon Developer Portal, used the ASK to configure their skill and integrate with the Lambda function, and tested their skills on an Echo. AWS volunteers circulated throughout the room to encourage, help, and cheer as each group got to test their working skills on the Echos in the room. Students were engaged and excited to create and test skills, including queries on the best gaming platform, favorite restaurant, favorite color, and worst NFL team in 2015. Following the workshop, students split into small groups and Amazon volunteers shared their experiences, answered questions, and discussed career pathways.

Learn more about AWS Educate and how to bring the cloud to your classroom here.