Chattanooga-based Thinking Media’s Learning Blade announced the new “Hack Attack” Computer Science Mission to over 400 attending the Arkansas Public School Resource Center (APSRC) Annual Conference in Hot Springs this week. Arkansas has led the nation by the passage of Computer Science Education and Jobs Act of 2015, which provides computer coding classes to all Arkansas high schools. The Governor supported offering Learning Blade to all middle schools to build a foundation of STEM career awareness and interest in computer science careers for every middle school student. The new mission focuses on computer science careers and technologies and is now available through a partnership with the APSRC to the over 450 schools who have activated their licenses. Lt. Governor Tim Griffin delivered an inspiring message encouraging more STEM exposure in schools.
The Learning Blade system includes "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 city. In the “Hack Attack” students are on a mission to help develop improved cyber security to protect their school from future information hacks. Learning Blade also provides teachers with valuable feedback on student skills while demonstrating the relevance of academics in real life.
Arkansas Commissioner of Education Johnny Key, an engineer himself, commented that “We appreciate Learning Blade’s interdisciplinary approach to introducing students to STEM careers including in computer science. The fact that all the Missions in Learning Blade highlight the positive role STEM professionals play in society is a recipe for success.”
Learning Blade’s "Hack Attack" was designed in collaboration with and sponsored by TATA Consultancy Services with offices in Arkansas. Balaji Ganapathy, head of HR Workforce Effectiveness for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) reiterates the need and importance of career awareness in middle schools. “We witness at TCS every day a growing need for computer science professionals in varied industries across the country. That is why we supported the development of the “Hack Attack” mission. Research confirms that students will not strive for careers they do not know exist. We believe Learning Blade helps kids see themselves as computer science professionals, better understanding the important roles they play in solving societal issues. Where else can they learn about the careers of data scientists, UI/UX designers or information security analysts in a single platform. This program will benefit all middle school students in Arkansas and beyond.”
Learning Blade president and CEO, Sheila Boyington highlights Learning Blade’s incredible results saying, "Our recent research shows that after using Learning Blade produces a statistically significant increase in interest in STEM careers. Over 70% of participating students indicate that they learn about new careers with a 97% increase in students who say ‘I would like to be an engineer or scientist in the future.”
On Sept. 14, Arkansas’ statewide adoption of Learning Blade was included in the White House’s Computer Science Summit fact sheet. “Thinking Media is committing to exposing up to 30,000 middle school students in 320 schools in Arkansas to CS careers through the Governor of Arkansas’s initiative to deliver Learning Blade, a tool for increasing STEM career awareness, by December 2017. In addition, at a national level, TATA Consultancy Services will collaborate with Thinking Media and Learning Blade to introduce 10 CS careers and technologies in way that emphasizes social interaction and impact.”