The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, through legislative support, is making a supplemental STEM career awareness curriculum available at no cost to all middle schools in the state. The online technology, Learning Blade, from Chattanooga-based Thinking Media, introduces STEM opportunities to students in a unique format demonstrating the benefits of STEM careers in society.
Officials said STEM careers in Tennessee are expected to grow by 16 percent with over 25,000 new jobs by 2024 and nationally STEM jobs are growing at almost twice the rate as non-STEM careers.
“Given our state’s strong efforts to lead the nation in workforce and education, supporting the STEM Network and making STEM resources available to all in our state makes good sense,” said Senator Bo Watson, one of the key sponsors of the legislation.
Officials said, "Learning Blade’s effective technology has proven to increase student interest in STEM careers with over 70 percent of participating students indicating that they learn about new careers through Learning Blade, while over 35 percent are more likely to consider STEM as a future career.
In the first month of school, over 25 percent of middle schools in Tennessee have begun the process of using Learning Blade to supplement STEM activities.
Many have participated in the free, easy to access training sessions that are being provided.
"The Learning Blade system is organized into 'Missions' that focus on societal issues, enabling students to participate in engaging lessons such as building an environmentally-sound orphanage after a major earthquake or solving energy and transportation needs in a particular city. Learning Blade also provides teachers with valuable feedback on student skills, while demonstrating the relevance of academics in real-life contexts for students.
"Learning Blade has been validated as a supplemental tool for increasing STEM career awareness and interest by Battelle Education and recommended by a panel of educational experts in the ACT 2014/2015 Condition of STEM report."
"At Battelle, we believe any tool headed into classrooms needs to meet a very high bar. Through its focus on real-world application and accessibility to students, especially those in rural areas, Learning Blade meets that bar,” said Aimee Kennedy, president of Battelle Education and Vice President at Battelle.
Wes Hall, director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, said, “As a state, STEM education's greatest potential will only be met if every Tennessee student can access quality learning tools – regardless of location. That's why the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network is excited to partner with Learning Blade on this important work."
Schools nationwide have used the Learning Blade system across 22 states since it launched two years ago. “Using technology to deliver real-world experiences is the future of teaching,” said Sheila Boyington, president, Thinking Media. “Our digital platform brings STEM career awareness to students and provides them with an opportunity to get on track for high demand careers and that is our goal.”
Additional partners in this project include STEMconnector®, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tennessee Association of Manufacturers, Hope Street Group and Lightweight Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT).
For more information on TSIN and Learning Blade STEM education initiatives, please visit www.tsin.org/learningblade