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Students take part in a program in Amazon’s Expressions Lab as part of a DiscoverU event for career exploration last year. (Amazon Photo)

As it continues to hire thousands of new employees in Seattle and across the country, Amazon is also giving school kids the chance to be “Amazonians for the day” as part of a new program to inspire young people to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Amazon announced its plans for its first summer camp on Wednesday. But for the hundreds of Seattle-area students, ages 9 to 14, who will get the chance to participate in the “A to Z Experience,” this isn’t a camp with arts and crafts or the honing of sports skills.

The kids will go through orientation just like any new hire and they’ll even get their own employee badge — all the better to blend in around South Lake Union! Participants will tour the tech giant’s expanding headquarters in downtown Seattle and also visit a robotics fulfillment center in Kent, Wash.

Along the way, the camp will allow for students to brainstorm on Amazon’s “next big idea;” meet and interact with dozens of Amazonians who will share their own experiences pursuing careers in STEM fields; learn to prep and ship an Amazon package; and build their own Amazon robot.

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The chance to see inside Amazon’s corporate headquarters and interact with Amazonians is part of the draw of the “A to Z Experience.” (Amazon Photo)

Seattle nonprofit Washington STEM is partnering with Amazon on the program and is helping to develop the curriculum for attending students. The STEM Store at Amazon.com, which is home to toys aimed at exciting children about science and technology, will provide select items for “A to Z” students to take home.

“Careers in STEM are in such high demand right now, and giving students a look behind the scenes at the inner workings of one of the most innovative companies in the world will be invaluable,” Caroline King, CEO of Washington STEM, said in a news release. “This is exactly the kind of program that can help inspire the next generation of inventors and scientists, and we are excited to partner with Amazon to make this a fun, educational experience for students growing up in Seattle and South King County.”

The move is part of an enhanced trend on the part of the company to better interact and give back to the community in which it makes its home. Recent philanthropic efforts have ranged from plans for a permanent dedicated space for homeless families on its Seattle campus to a partnership with FareStart that will create five new restaurants and cafes to serve as training grounds for entry-level food-service employees.

“In many regards, we’re a bashful company,” John Schoettler, Amazon’s director of global real estate and facilities, said in December. “We haven’t necessarily told our story very well.”

Exciting kids about the company, what it’s building and innovating on and turning them on to STEM in the process could go a long way in planting the seeds for future stories.

“We can’t wait to welcome hundreds of curious students to Amazon,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Consumer. “Whether they walk away wanting to build advanced robotics technology, invent brand new devices, or build applications that make customers lives easier, we hope that being Amazonians for a day helps them feel inspired and empowered to pioneer and invent in whatever field they choose.”

The “A to Z Experience” will begin in July and run through August. Schools, parents and organizations wanting to learn more can visit here.

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