Learning Blade Awarded EdTech Finalist for 2021
April 12, 2021:
Learning Blade® was named a finalist for the EdTech Awards Cool Tool for STEM education for 2021. The recognition as a finalist was not only for Learning Blade’s unique approach in increasing interest in STEM through how high-demand careers approach important social issues, but also for Learning Blade’s ground-breaking Backpack app for Chromebooks that allows students to complete online lessons even without Internet access at home.
The EdTech Awards recognizes people in and around education for outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology to enrich the lives of learners everywhere. Celebrating its 11th year, the US-based program is the largest recognition program in all of education technology, recognizing the biggest names in edtech.
“The worldwide pandemic put education and training to the test, but remote learning and working—in many unexpected ways—ultimately brought us closer,” said Victor Rivero, who as Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest, oversees the program.
“We are pleased that our efforts to reduce the digital divide in education has been recognized as a pathway to help all students feel engaged in STEM education, no matter where they may be located,” said Dane Boyington, CTO of Thinking Media, the creators of Learning Blade.
This year’s finalists and winners were narrowed from the larger field and judged based on various criteria, including: pedagogical workability, efficacy and results, support, clarity, value and potential.
TN Chamber of Commerce and Industry Supports Learning Blade and TN-CAPS in Tennessee
January 11, 2021:
The TN Chamber of Commerce and Industry has received a contract from the State of Tennessee to support the Learning Blade and TN-CAPS platforms for schools throughout Tennessee. Bradley Jackson, CEO of the Chamber, stated that "We are happy to be able to continue to make these valuable platforms available to teachers across our state in order to help educate students on the wide variety of high-demand careers available in Tennessee. Through this effort, we are working to help ensure that our state has the high-quality workforce that our businesses need to thrive."
Learning Blade helps to educate students in grades 5-9 about STEM and computer science careers through 12 missions that demonstrate how these careers solve societal issues. TN-CAPS provides K-12 teachers with ready-to-use lesson plans that demonstrates in-demand careers and also highlights local businesses that hire these careers.
Teachers can get more information on these systems here.
Learning Blade Releases Videos for 3D Printing Lessons
January 4, 2021:
Learning Blade has worked with 3D printer manufacturer Flashforge to create a series of videos that guide teachers through the process of setting up a 3D printer and using it to conduct the 3D MakerQuest printing lessons in Learning Blade.
These videos can also be used directly by students to understand how to download 3D model files, edit or create new models in Tinkercad directly online, and then print out the objects using the Flashforge Adventurer 3 or other printers. The videos also show how to use these printed objects to conduct hands-on experiments that demonstrate scientific concepts from the Learning Blade Missions.
See the full playlist of videos here.
Learning Blade Launches Innovative Tech Solution to Dampening the Digital Divide During COVID
December 5, 2020:
Due to restrictions from COVID-19, millions of students are now studying at home, resulting in several gaps that effect outcomes for many students. These gaps often include a lack of Internet access at home and limited opportunities for STEM and Computer Science education. A new Chromebook app has been released that helps to bridge these gaps for many students.
Schools have attempted to address remote learning issues by purchasing low-cost computers for students to take home. The most common solution is Chromebooks, which can cost as little as $300 each. Technology research firm IDC estimates that over 9 million Chromebooks shipped in 3rd quarter of 2020, in increase of 90% over the year before. However, these Chromebooks still rely on high-speed Internet connections for most tasks, which is an issue for many families.
The Federal Communications Commission estimates that about 21 million Americans lack broadband access, with an independent research group indicating the actual number is twice as high. In a separate survey, only 30 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools reported students had access to the Internet at home. While many are working to close this gap, Internet access will continue to be an issue for education in the near term.
Additionally, schools are also struggling to provide a well-rounded and effective educational experience via distance learning. Many states addressed this issue by spending a portion of their stimulus funds on basic online educational materials that address reading and math skills. This may and has led to a lack of STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) activities, and from a more limited exposure to STEM and other high-demand careers.
Tennessee-based Thinking Media has created an innovative solution to these issues with the release of the Learning Blade® Backpack app. Learning Blade is an online and offline STEM and computer science awareness platform that can provide rich experiences for students. The Learning Blade Backpack app for Chomebooks allows students without Internet access at home to use a large library of interactive STEM lessons that expose students to high-demand careers while practicing basic academic skills. Students download the lessons while connected to the Internet at school and can then work on the interactive lessons even where Internet is not available. Then whenever the student connects to the Internet, the results are automatically uploaded for the teacher to review.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, whose efforts in computer science education have been nationally recognized stated, “Until every student in our state has access to high-speed Internet, our job isn’t finished. Resources such as Learning Blade’s new app is an innovative stop-gap that allows us to provide students a way to work at home more efficiently while we continue to build out our broadband.”
In Tennessee, Senator Bo Watson observed that "Effective and equitable education opportunities are essential for the economic health of our state, particularly to reach the rural parts of our state. As this has become more difficult in today’s environment, we appreciate companies like Thinking Media who work to create Learning Blade and the new app that brings quality STEM experiences, leveraging technology to bridge distance and resources for all".
Initial feedback on the app has already confirmed that this provides more equitable access to learning. Missouri teacher Amy Polanowski described one of her students who used the Learning Blade Backpack app by saying “I have one student that has been using it at home since she has no Internet, and she loves it. She said it makes her feel like other students and she can keep up with her work without having to rush through it.”
Megan Criner, a teacher in Tennessee, says her students feel the same. One 6th grade student replied “Learning Blade Backpack is amazing because I can do my work offline. It was easy to download and it is also easy to keep track because when I am offline, I can see my assignments."
“This crisis impacted the efficacy of online learning platforms and caused our team to re-examine how the delivery of our interdisciplinary STEM and computer science lessons might be made more equitable for low- or no-tech students at home,” said Sheila Boyington, President and CEO. “Our team began uniquely working almost immediately on a solution that would allow students without reliable Internet to continue to have access to our online lessons. We believe this may be the first solution like this and may very well be a model for others to follow.”
Former US Congressman Zach Wamp, Thinking Media Board Chair stated “The goals of expanding Internet access into rural areas and advancing new education tools for students who are currently in underserved markets aren’t mutually exclusive. Rich stories are emerging from rural spots in Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. We are thankful for these and other leading states. We can do this!”
Learning Blade Backpack is available now on the Google Play Store, and requires a subscription to Learning Blade.
Boeing Support STEM Education and Learning Blade in Alabama
October 21, 2020:
The Boeing Company on Tuesday announced that it has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Decatur City Schools Foundation for expanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education throughout the Decatur, Alabama school system. In addition to other activities, students will have the opportunity to design, test and print projects for their Learning Blade Curriculum and Greenpower race car projects in these STEM courses..
See more about this project here.
Endress+Hauser Supports STEM Education in Indiana
September 29, 2020:
Every year Endress+Hauser hosts the Community Career+Education Forum, students and their parents spend a day immersed in science, technology, engineering and math. They talk with manufacturers about possible career paths, and take part in activities that involve coding, working with robotics or using 3D modeling. Innovative demonstrations allow them to see STEM working in real life. And this year, all this was done virtually.
Schools have also been given access to Learning Blade, an online tool promoting STEM lessons and activities. Classrooms kits allowing schools to teach about coronavirus and disease spread have been assembled and will be distributed.
See the complete article here.
Learning Blade highlighted as National Growth Company in the Age of COVID-19
July 13, 2020:
MarketWatch, a leading provider of financial information, business news, analysis, and stock market data, has highlighted Learning Blade as a growth company serving education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The publication noted that "Prior to COVID-19, the online education market was expected to grow from a $107 billion market in 2015 to $350 billion by 2025. But the pandemic could accelerate the growth as schools grapple with how to hold classes while adhering to social distancing guidelines." They also singled out Learning Blade for "providing supplemental curriculum around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for remote teachers and home schooling parents."
See the complete article here.
Learning Blade has also been highlighted by IndustryToday.
June 17, 2020:
Several teachers across the U.S. have described how Learning Blade has helped students both before and during COVID-19 closures.
See a short summary of their experiences here.
In the News: SC Department of Ed Funds New Learning System
Students in classrooms across South Carolina have a new resource for learning. The Learning Blade program has been fully funded by the South Carolina Department of Education Office of Career and Technical Education. ... “I love Learning Blade,” said Dr. Lori Lambert, a STEM Academy IT Instructor in Lexington. “It has been amazing and very user friendly. As a teacher for 26 years, I wish we had this years ago.”
See the full article here.
In the News: John P. Freeman School Wins 3D Printer For Students Hardwork
June 3, 2020:
John P. Freeman Optional School students earned a brand-new 3D printer for the school from Learning Blade thanks to their continued virtual learning while schools were closed due to COVID-19. ... “I love Learning Blade because it exposes students to the various careers in STEM. It also integrates all subject areas,” said Sundra Dolberry, a teacher at John P. Freeman.
See the full article here.
Succeeding at STEM during COVID 19 School Shutdown
June 8, 2020:
Students in Missouri this year have had exposure to high demand careers that exist in their state and beyond. During the recent school closures caused by COVID-19, many Missouri schools were still able to provide a way for students to consider a future career in high-demand careers. Through the online system, Learning Blade, students experience how STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers can solve many of society’s problems, including flu epidemics similar to today’s reality.
See the full article here.
Kentucky Students using Learning Blade at Home during COVID-19
April 27, 2020:
Kentucky schools are using Learning Blade to make learning more meaningful for students working from home. "We have been able to offer students interactive assignments that provide immediate feedback. It also has been beneficial for our teachers because they are not having to come up with lessons, and the Learning Blade lessons relate to content they have taught in class," said Southern Middle School Principal Brett McQueary. Even the students are pleased - "It's really fun and a lot of interesting things to learn about" says an eighth grader.
See the full article here.
Offering Free Downloadable Lessons for Remote Learning
March 15, 2020:
In the time of COVID-19, we are now offering free downloadable ome Worksheets (STEM4Parents and Mission Challenges). These provide ways for students and parents to have home discussions, explore research questions and perform simple experiments to introduce STEM careers and topics. Download 24 different sets of activities free at www.learningblade.com/remote.
See the resources here.
Alabama Governor Ivey Visits Austin Middle School to View Learning Blade Program
March 9, 2020:
On March 9th, 2020, Governor Kay Ivey along with Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey and Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling as well as many other dignitaries, elected officials and state educational leaders toured Austin Middle School to witness Learning Blade in action. The visit garnered substantial attention from local and state press agencies.
Below are some of the TV news and print on her visit:
South Carolina Announces Statewide Pilot of Learning Blade
April 14, 2020:
The Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE) at the South Carolina Department of Education has adopted Learning Blade for a statewide pilot for increasing students' career awareness and interest. Schools can request their license at www.LearningBlade.com/sc.
Arkansas Students Complete 1 Million Computer Science and STEM Lessons
December 20, 2019:
Following a successful Computer Science Education Week, December 9-15, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), the Arkansas Public School Resource Center (APSRC), and Learning Blade are excited to announce that Arkansas is the first state to complete over 1,000,000 computer science and STEM lessons.
Under the leadership of Governor Asa Hutchinson and his #ARKidsCanCode / #CSforAR Computer Science Initiative, Learning Blade was first provided to schools statewide three years ago and continues to be provided by a grant from ADE Office of Computer Science to APSRC. In addition to these tremendous engagement numbers, the latest validated student survey results indicate a 61% increase in Arkansas students who say “I am interested in a career in computer science” after experiencing Learning Blade resources.
See the full article here.
Learning Blade Certified by STEMworks
December 12, 2019:
Learning Blade has how received recognition as an "accomplished" STEM education program in the STEMworks database. This signifies that Learning Blade has been through an extensive and rigorous review process of all aspects of the program.
STEMworks is managed by WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency that partners with education and other communities throughout the United States and abroad to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults.
See the STEMworks evaluation of Learning Blade here.
State of Alabama and The Boeing Company Partner with Learning Blade
October 17, 2019:
Learning Blade is now available in Alabama through a joint venture of the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Office and The Boeing Company. This initiative will offer all Alabama schools with grades 5-9 access, at no charge, to Learning Blade in an effort to increase student interest in and awareness of STEM and computer science careers. Licenses are provided statewide, and accounts are easy to access through CLEVER’s single sign-on portal or through Learning Blade’s account request form at LearningBlade.com/AL. Once registered, educators unlock over 200 hours of interactive, online and offline activities that engage students in human-centered problems that illustrate more than 100 careers and technologies in industries such as Bioengineering, Energy, Robotics, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Genetics and more.
Teachers also work toward winning a 3D printer on behalf of their school as students complete 5,000 online lessons in a single school year. Learning Blade is proud to have 3D-printer sponsor, FlashForgeUSA, providing a free 3D printer (Adventure 3) to these successful schools.
This project is partially funded with Federal Funds made available to the State of Alabama Department of Commerce by the U. S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration as the Grantor.
Missouri Adopts Learning Blade
June 21, 2019:
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has contracted with Learning Blade™ to offer middle school students more opportunities for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career awareness training.
Learning Blade™ is a supplemental, STEM toolbox of interactive online lessons, ready-to-use lesson plans and classroom activities designed to expose primarily 6th-8th grade students to STEM-related career opportunities and help them develop key skills as they move forward. This approach to STEM education focuses on activities that can be utilized both in a self-paced game environment and as practice in academic classrooms.
The system is built on the concept of missions. Each mission highlights a people-centered problem that engages today's students, and shows how STEM careers and technologies solve these problems. There are online lessons, projects and activities designed to grab students' attention while introducing them to the careers, tools and technologies found throughout STEM fields. It also has parent activities in order to stimulate discussion of careers at home.
Training is available to educators with the goal of having them feel confident in using Learning Blade™ at the end of the two-to-three hour session. Once your registration has been processed, Learning Blade™ will send you additional information regarding the optional training.
Learning Blade and Flashforge USA Announce National Partnership
September 13, 2019:
Two companies join forces to grow STEM education and 3D printing in schools across the nation
Exciting news from Learning Blade and 3D printer company Flashforge USA, as they come together to promote growth in STEM education through 3D printing in schools across the United States. With the collaboration, schools who use Learning Blade’s program to complete 5,000 online STEM lessons will receive a free 3D printer from Flashforge USA.
Learning Blade is an online platform that exposes students to and builds interest in STEM and computer science careers by demonstrating the relevance of academics to careers while aligned to state standards. Learning Blade offers over 200 hours of interactive curriculum, and schools across the nation who complete a minimum of 5,000 online STEM lessons during one school year will receive the “Adventurer 3” 3D printer from Flashforge USA at no cost to the school to promote the widening technology and academic advantages of 3D printing in the classroom.
“Technology is always developing, and we need to make sure that students are able to see and experience these new advancements since they will one day be our workforce,” says Thinking Media/Learning Blade’s CEO and President, Sheila Boyington. “That’s why we feel this partnership is vital—so students can experience careers, design, production, technology and 3D printing through Learning Blade lessons and Flashforge’s exceptional 3D printing products.”
Along with Learning Blade’s 400 plus online STEM lessons spanning math, science, social studies and English, the online curriculum also provides additional resources including Maker Quests, which are 3D printing activities that go along with each online mission. Learning Blade’s Maker Quests are unique in that each 3D-printed project is designed to be tested so students collect and analyze data. The collaboration between Learning Blade and Flashforge USA is to increase opportunity for 21st century learning by using additive manufacturing to prototype, design, build and test their ideas relating to what they have been learning in the classroom.
“Our partnership with Learning Blade will give students an incentive to get involved in STEM at their schools,” says Johnny of Flashforge USA, “creating engagement and opening up possibilities they may not have known were available to them in the fast-growing STEM and computer science sectors.”
Last year alone, Learning Blade awarded more than 50 schools across the country a 3D printer for completing 5,000 or more lessons to enable those classrooms to better bring their STEM and computer science learning to life. Learning Blade has statewide contracts in Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama, with schools in over 30 states.
“Arkansas students have completed over 1,000,000 lessons through Learning Blade since the Arkansas Department of Education Office of Computer Science made it available to all middle school students in Arkansas in 2016. The power of these lessons is that students get to learn and get excited about great careers in the Computer Science and other STEM fields,” said Anthony Owen, Arkansas Director of Computer Science. “This early engagement is critical to increasing the number of students who will eventually enter these high paying fields. The offer of a 3D printer to schools that complete 5,000 lessons is another example of how Learning Blade is being a great partner to Gov. Hutchinson’s #CSforAR / #ARKidsCanCode Initiative and helping our team encourage and support the further use of this valuable resource.”
“Today's Tennessee students will graduate into an economy where more and more jobs rely on 3D printing. Thanks to FlashForge USA and Learning Blade, many of these students will now enter that economy with firsthand 3D printing experience, building their skills and preparing them for success," said Brandi Stroecker, Director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, a public-private partnership between Battelle and the Tennessee Department of Education.
The new partnership between Learning Blade and Flashforge USA hopes to continue to encourage students by providing real world scenarios and hands-on projects to further student knowledge outside of the four walls of the classroom.
About Learning Blade
Learning Blade®, a product of Thinking Media, is a supplemental STEM and computer science toolbox of interactive online lessons, ready-to-use lessons plans and classroom activities proven to increase STEM and computer science career awareness for middle school students. Follow on Twitter and Facebook: @LearningBlade
About Flashforge USA
Flashforge USA is disrupting the desktop 3D printing market by introducing easy-to-use 3D printers. Established in 2011, Flashforge has sold thousands of 3D printers worldwide, including the award-winning Creator with dual extrusion. Flashforge USA focuses on making 3D printing widely accessible to institutions, architects, engineers, designers and the broad consumer and prosumer market. Flashforge USA is fully committed to creating value for its customers by delivering quality, reliable, competitively-priced products and going beyond the Flashforge Promise..
Learning Blade to Participate in First Computer Science Summit for State Leaders
May 21, 2019:
Arkansas Governor announced today that his office will host the first-ever National Computer Science Summit for State Leaders in Arkansas on June 10, 2019. Sheila Boyington, President and CEO of Thinking Media, is proud to be assisting the Governor in this important step in bringing high-quality computer science education to K-12 students nationwide.
This invitation-only event will include representatives from 26 states, including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and other national and international leaders in the field of computer-science education for discussion of issues such as academic standards, teacher training, budgets, and development of computer-science education policy.
“This summit is the logical next step for Arkansas as we continue to be a national leader in computer-science education,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This summit will give us direct access to national leaders in the field, and it will allow them to see in person the advances we are making and to meet the people who are making this happen.”
From his first months in office, Governor Hutchinson has promoted the expansion of computer-science education, starting with his signature on Arkansas Act 187, which required all the state’s public and charter high schools to offer a course in computer coding. The state has continued to broaden access to students K-12.
The summit will include the keynote by Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org; and a panel discussion led by the founder of Learning Blade, Sheila Boyington, with Governor Hutchinson, Commissioner of Education Johnny Key, and state director of computer science Anthony Owen; and panel discussions with other state leaders, commissioners of education, and industry leaders.
Funding for this event is being provided by donations from Battelle and Microsoft in addition to the Arkansas Department of Education Office of Computer Science.
See the official press release here.
Kentucky GearUp Grant Utilizes Learning Blade to Inform Students
March 4, 2019:
Berea College selected Learning Blade as a major intervention in a 7-county GearUp grant program to help students understand the variety of STEM careers available. Thinking Media also worked with the college to enable Learning Blade to deliver a customized survey to all students in the grant program. Learning Blade staff are providing reports of this data on demand to assist in program monitoring and tracking.
A local newspaper article also highlighted the use in a local elementary school.
“Learning Blade is changing students’ conversations about careers,” said Mia Brown, Credits Count program director for ACTC. “Access to the Learning Blade system allows students to see advanced manufacturing and other STEM fields as viable career options.”
Learning Blade® invites schools to participate for FREE during Engineers Week Feb 17-23, 2019
February 11, 2019:
Learning Blade is offering schools to use our new Engineers Week mission for free. This mission highlights engineering careers and technologies using short online lessons. Learn more about this new resource with our short video.
Sign up for free at www.LearningBlade.com/engineers.
Learning Blade for Engineers Week is supported by Arkansas Dept. of Education, STEMx, Tata Consultancy Services, STEMconnector®, Million Women Mentors®, Arkansas Public School Resource Center, Arkansas Career Education, Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, TSIN, Idaho STEM Action Center, National Rural Education Association, Ohio Rural Schools, Partners in Education at Berea College, and Florida's STEM2Hub.
Hour of Learning Blade for Computer Science Week Dec 3-9
November 27, 2018:
Anthony Owen, Chief State STEM Officer of Arkansas, invites your school to include an Hour of Learning Blade-HACK ATTACK as one of the activities you choose for 2018 Computer Science Week! Students can get a glimpse into the world of computer science in Learning Blade's Hack Attack Mission.
Learning Blade’s Hack Attack Mission, developed in cooperation with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and TATA Consultancy Services, focuses on computer science careers. While CS Week focuses on coding skills, it is important to also highlight careers that use these skills. Learning Blade includes many other STEM careers that can be explored as well.
Learning Blade Presents at the 2018 Georgia STEM/ STEAM Forum
October 22, 2018:
Learning Blade Vice President Joshua M Sneideman will present alongside Sarah Callaway from Adairsville Middle School, Learning Blade's most active school in Georgia, at the 2018 Georgia STEM/ STEAM Forum on "STEMCareer Awareness in Action"
In 2017, The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) in collaboration with Thinking Media awarded schools throughout the state licenses to use Learning Blade’s online STEM platform to enhance student interest and awareness of STEM careers. This session will share highlights of the most active school in the state, Adairsville Middle School, and their tremendous success using Learning Blade to inspire students.
3D Printer Contest Supporting New 3D Printing Lessons
September 1, 2018:
In an effort to reward schools for their loyalty, Learning Blade will provide a 3D printer to ALL schools that complete 5,000 STEM lessons between August 15, 2018 and May 1, 2019. Many schools use Learning Blade 10-15 minutes a week to supplement their curriculum and to achieve this goal.
Learning Blade Programs in Florida, Georgia and Ohio Extended
August 7, 2018:
Florida: The STEM2Hub is partnering with Learning Blade to enhance STEM and Career awareness. Please contact email@example.com to find out more.
Georgia: The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement is working to renew current Georgia schools licenses to Learning Blade.
Ohio: The Ohio Small and Rural Collaborative (OSRC) continues to collaborate with Learning Blade and is extending your schools Licenses into the 2018-2019 school year.
Learning Blade Continues Success in Tennessee and Arkansas
July 1, 2018:
The use of Learning Blade continues to increase in both Tennessee and Arkansas, demonstrating its appeal to teachers and students in both states. The numbers below show the incredible usage that has been achieved.
- Over 99,000 hours of instruction
- Over 650,000 lessons delivered
- Over 85,000 hours of instruction
- Over 600,000 lessons delivered
Idaho STEM Action Center Offers FREE Learning Blade Access
May 24, 2018:
The Idaho STEM Action Center is expanding its grant to provide one year licenses to Learning Blade for Idaho schools.
This grant is open to Idaho public schools for grades 6-8. Up to 40 schools will be selected in Idaho to receive full school licenses for one year to implement Learning Blade programming. Priority will be given to schools offering the broadest impact by proposing implementation throughout multiple grades (within 6-8 range) and multiple subject areas. More information on the program can be found at LearningBlade.com or Idaho STEM Flyer.
Andrea Bearwald at Lewis and Clark Middle School says:
“Learning Blade ties in really well with what kids are tested on ISAT state exam. Examples authors use on ISAT questions is exactly what we just did in Learning Blade. Style of questions in Learning Blade are similar in diversity as those on the ISAT, it tightly matches.”
The deadline to apply is September 9, 2019 5:00 pm MT
Thinking Media-Learning Blade Selected To Gator100
April 10, 2018:
Thinking Media- Learning Blade was named to the University of Florida’s 2018 Gator100 during a ceremony at UF’s J. Wayne Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. Sponsored by the UF Alumni Association, in partnership with the UF Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, the Gator100 recognizes the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or led by UF alumni. Ernst & Young calculated each company’s compound annual growth rate over the past three years to generate the ranking.
Thinking Media was selected due to the growth of its 4th product: Learning Blade, an online program with a game-based format intended to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM subjects. The program allows students to choose among a wide variety of activities based on societal problems, exposing students to more than 100 different STEM careers and technologies. Learning Blade was developed by Chattanooga entrepreneurs and UF Chemical Engineering alumni Sheila and Dr. Dane Boyington, and it is currently being used in over 3,000 schools nationwide, including statewide in Tennessee and Arkansas.
Learning Blade Founder Published Regarding the Next Generation STEM Workforce
March 26, 2018:
Thinking Media co-founder Sheila Boyington was published in the Association of Career and Technical Education's Techniques magazine. Entitled "Inspring the Next Generation of the STEM Workforce," the article lays out the rationale for including career awareness as an essential component of effective STEM learning programs.
For more information see here.
Ohio School Embraces STEM with Learning Blade and MakerMinded
March 23, 2018:
Determined to enrich the learning experience by engaging students with quality STEM content, principal Chad Lensman has piloted two new STEM programs this school year. Both STEM programs, MakerMinded and Learning Blade® are initiatives in Ohio supported by LIFT—Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, a national ManufacturingUSA institute, to enhance student experiences and understanding of manufacturing and other high demand fields.
Kirk Koennecke, Executive Director of the Ohio Small and Rural Collaborative and Superintendent of Graham Local Schools is proud of the success of his teachers and students in adopting new innovative STEM programs, “We strive every day to provide the absolute best educational opportunities to our students. MakerMinded and Learning Blade help our students envision their role in the 21st century workforce all while reinforcing in engaging standards and academics.”
You can see the newspaper article here.
Georgia Newspaper Highlights Success of Learning Blade for STEM Education
January 21, 2018:
Students at Adairsville Middle School are so excited by Learning Blade, they asked their teacher Mr. Kelly Abernathy to do more homework. Can you imagine?
The success of the Learning Blade program in Georgia was highlighted as front-page news in the local Adairsville newspaper. Career Connections teacher Kelly Abernathy stated that “It gave me something different to aid in introducing my students to STEM-related career opportunities... Since I teach careers, it fit my curriculum perfectly.” The 22-year teaching veteran said Learning Blade is the “best program I have used.”
Check out the newspaper article here.
You can also see an interview with Kelly Abernathy on YouTube here.
Students Create Their Own Video of Learning Blade 3D Printer Lesson Results
January 17, 2018:
Students at Graham Middle School in Ohio have designed their own video to highlight their success using Learning Blade's 3D MakerQuest on Concept Car Prototyping.
The Maker Quest lessons include ready-to- print 3D models with the abiilty for students to edit their own designs using online software. Learning Blade's 3D Maker Quests coincide with the online Learning Blade missions, letting students use the printed models to conduct experiments that highlight topics from the online lessons. Concepts Car Prototyping integrates with our Manufacturing a Concept Car Mission which includes 10 hours of interdisciplinary STEM lessons where students learn about careers such as Welder, Automotive Designer, Safety Administrator, Manufacturing Technician and more.
See the student's video here.
Learning Blade President Addresses the Issue of Cybersecurity Education
December 4, 2017:
Thinking Media's President Sheila Boyington addressed the need for cybersecurity education today. She gave the opening keynote address at the annual NICE K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference in Nashville, TN. She stressed not only the importance of cybersecurity skills, but also the importance of addressing career awareness at an early age, and the effect of mentoring on increasing career pathway persistence, especially for girls.
You can see more coverage on her address by Education Week magazine here.
Learning Blade’s STEM Program Delivers 1,000,000 STEM Lessons – New Research Proves Tremendous Impact on Students
November 14, 2017:
As of this month, students across the country have completed more than 1,000,000 STEM lessons focusing on STEM career awareness all while practicing academic standards based questions. Providing age appropriate engaging resources for students and teachers to learn about STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) careers is a critical component to opening students’ minds to the world of future work possibilities in STEM. Tennessee-based Thinking Media’s, web-based program Learning Blade through generous support of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting and business solutions organization, has developed a robust STEM learning environment, which highlights 100 STEM careers and technologies by organizing them in 12 different missions.
Recent educational research by Dr. Katherine Kendall, of Tribeca University, found significant statistical difference between middle schools that use Learning Blade and those that do not. Students that utilize Learning Blade had improved STEM vocational aspiration, career development plans and STEM-related interpersonal interactions.
Learning Blade users were more 59% more likely to intend to pursue STEM careers and 140% more likely to respond that they knew what STEM workers do for a living. Dr. Kendall’s research also found that Learning Blade users were 70% more likely to express interest in STEM with their peers. Another finding was that Learning Blade users were 69% more likely to believe a STEM career is achievable for them. This research confirms the original mission of Learning Blade to address middle school students’ lack of STEM career awareness while providing teachers a powerful resource for instruction.
Statewide adoption of Learning Blade in Arkansas and Tennessee have contributed to the extreme usage.
Johnny Key, Arkansas Commissioner of Education, speaking about their Statewide Coding Initiative for the STEMConnector national webinar on "Proven Strategies to Prepare Students for CS Careers” stated “Our vision is to transform Arkansas to lead the nation in student focused education and nothing could be more relevant than CS. To that end, in 2016 Governor Asa Hutchinson supported launching Learning Blade statewide so students would be able to learn about careers in CS and STEM.” (See Video)
"Battelle’s Tennessee STEM Innovation Network focuses heavily on expanding STEM for all students in Tennessee. Offering Learning Blade at no cost to schools across the state has resulted in a powerful initiative that has given students, particularly in rural areas, an innovative way to explore future STEM careers," remarked Wesley Hall, Director, TSIN.
Battelle Education confirms similar results as Dr. Kendall. They validated that the Learning Blade system achieves its primary goals of increasing STEM career awareness and interest and demonstrating the relevance of academics to real-life jobs. Their research-based data show that after using Learning Blade 70% of students said they learned about new careers, 75% of students said they learned about technology and by using Learning Blade student responses to future STEM aspirations increased by 97%.
“We are very excited to have reached 1,000,000 lessons completed. This equals more than 175,000 hours of STEM engagement. ” says Dr. Dane Boyington CTO, Thinking Media “We fundamentally believe for students to envision their STEM future they need to be exposed to the wide ranging opportunities in STEM. If they don’t know a career exists it is hard to strive for that future.”
Balaji Ganapathy, Head of Workforce Effectiveness for Tata Consultancy Services stated, “It is critical that we empower today’s students with education that is career relevant and contextual to the needs of 21st century. Through Learning Blade’s career missions, we are contributing to that overall goal in schools nationwide and it is truly rewarding to see the impact of increase in students’ interest in STEM education and careers.”
Since launching three years ago, schools nationwide have successfully used this system including expanding adoptions in Georgia, Ohio and Idaho. “Learning Blade technology allows teachers to use a blended learning strategy while reinforcing standard all in a student self-paced environment,” said Sheila Boyington, President/CEO, Thinking Media. “Our digital platform brings STEM career awareness to students and provides them with an opportunity to get on track for high demand.”
KY School Louisa Middle is the Top User of Learning Blade in Country
September 5, 2017:
With nearly 30,000 completed Learning Blade lessons, students at Louisa Middle School have completed more online STEM career awareness lessons than any other school in the country.
“Learning Blade is changing students’ conversations about careers,” said Mia Brown, Credits Count program director for ACTC. “Access to the Learning Blade system allows students to see advanced manufacturing and other STEM fields as viable career options.”
The Kentucky project was funded by the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) consortium. LIFT is a public-private partnership, and a Manufacturing USA institute, committed to the development and deployment of advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future.
See more information on this sucess story by seeing the local newspaper article here.
Learning Blade Releases New Parent Engagement Activities
May 22, 2017:
In addition to the existing interactive online lessons, hands-on projects and 3D printing activities, Learning Blade now includes new parent engagement activities. These STEM4Parents handouts include three different ways for parents to participate in building STEM career awareness:
- Table Talk: Conversation starters that any parent can use without any required preparation or knowledge
- Dig Deeper: Opportunities to research interesting aspects of STEM careers on the Internet
- Home Lab: Simple STEM learning activities that can be done at home with little or no special materials.
These activities coordinate with the existing missions in the Learning Blade system, and include sheets that parents can sign and return to school documenting their discussions with their student. This process helps to meet new ESSA standards for parent engagement.
New Interactive Program Brings Ohio Students Pathways to Manufacturing Jobs using Learning Blade
April 7, 2017:
Battelle for Kids, Learning Blade, eduFactor and the Ohio STEM Learning Network, through funding provided by the Lightweight Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) consortium, to help stimulate interest and awareness in advanced manufacturing and lightweight materials, is providing Learning Blade to Montgomery and surrounding counties.
You can see additional information here.
MakerQuest - 3D Printing Lessons In Collaboration with StrataSys
March 15, 2017:
Learning Blade has joined efforts with the world’s largest 3D printing organization, Stratasys, to provide entry point 3D printing lessons that align with our 12 Missions. Learning Blade and Stratasys designed 3D printing lessons are stored at www.Thingiverse.com/learningblade which provide the 3D printable file to support learning objectives. Additional supporting information and lesson plans are available within the Learning Blade system itself. Our first 3D lessons include printing a rolling car for testing on ramps, adjusting a wind turbine design, printing shapes that students can program using icon-based programming methods, designing a prosthetic hand and testing a structure on a seismic shake table. We will continue to release our MakerQuest lessons as they become available, with the goal of one MakerQuest lesson for each mission in Learning Blade.
Oklahoma Expands Use of Learning Blade
February 1, 2017:
The Oklahoma Career Tech Centers in Tulsa, Gordon Cooper and Francis Tuttle are providing Learning Blade to region teachers to introduce STEM careers. The initial use and response has been great. Here are some of the teacher’s response to the program.
"I enjoyed this training and feel it would be very beneficial to the learning process at our district. My fear is that I will implement with my staff and then my district will be required to pay a fee for using after the trial period. With the dire financial situation of our current state education budget, I know this would not be something that would be added to the priority list of our district regardless of its usefulness in the classroom. With that being said, any free offer for this program would be greatly appreciated.
Anje Newnam, Glenpool Middle School
"Having a tool like Learning Blade as a resource allows schools that are struggling with funding to compete on a more balanced field with schools that are not struggling as heavily."
Jason Louvier, Catoosa Middle School 8th grade Science Teacher
"Learning Blade is a valuable supplemental tool for our district to utilize. Our student will be better prepared to make decisions about their future careers as well as reinforcing our academic standards."
Kelly Marsaln-McBride, Berryhill Middle School, 8th grade Science Teacher
Tennessee STEM Education Plan Advocates for Learning Blade
December 1, 2016:
The Tennessee Department of Education released a new strategic plan for STEM education to ensure all students have access to quality STEM learning opportunities. The STEM Strategic Plan continues to build upon the network's efforts across the state and outlines new focus areas in curriculum and instruction, student achievement, professional development, and community & post-secondary partnerships.
Learning Blade is excited to be a program highlighted in the plan to provide learning opportunities for career exploration. Specifically, the plan calls to "advocate for Learning Blade career exploration online resources" to "provide instructional and community resources for the integration of K-12 classroom learning and external-based learning opportunities" for middle schools.
You can see the entire plan here.
Battelle Education Releases Report on Learning Blade Effectiveness
November 9, 2016:
In cooperation with Thinking Media, Battelle Education has released a report "STEM in the Middle: Improving Interest in STEM Careers in Middle School using Learing Blade." This report documents the research into the effectiveness of Learning Blade using student and teacher pre- and post-use surveys. Research-based data show that Learning Blade doubled the number of students interested in becoming an engineer or scientist and produced a 79% increase in recognizing the value of math in problem solving, a 69% increase in recognizing relevance of school, and a 56% increase in interest in taking advanced math classes. The system has also been recognized as an effective STEM tool by ACT, Inc., STEMworks and others.
You can view the complete report here.
Hack Attack – Learning Blade’s New Computer Science Mission
October 25, 2016:
Announcing Learning Blade’s newest mission "Hack Attack."
The Hack Attack Mission was launched at the Arkansas Public School Resource Center Conference, and was created in collaboration and with sponsorship from TATA Consultancy Services. You can read more about how this new mission highlights the positive role STEM professionals play in society, here.
Arkansas is Next State to Offer Learning Blade Statewide
June 15, 2016:
In support of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s leading efforts in Computer Science Education and Career and Technical Education, the Department of Education and the Department of Career Education along with the Governor announced that Learning Blade will be available statewide for schools in Arkansas. The Arkansas Public School Resource Center will lead this effort.
“The Learning Blade’s focus on STEM education will offer Arkansas’s students new and exciting opportunities to learn real-world computer science concepts. This program will help our young learners master the fundamentals required for an array of specialized and highly-competitive STEM careers.
This effort, along with my computer science initiative, is putting Arkansas’s students in an even better position to land tech-driven jobs. As the computer coding movement in Arkansas continues to gain momentum, I look forward to even greater numbers of students taking on the skills needed for these challenging and rewarding fields.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas
As the Governor as noted, in this age of technology, people with a basic knowledge of computer programming will never lack opportunity. Connecting this knowledge to the many careers that employ these skills open doors to a whole world of possibilities. According to BLS data, by 2024 there will be over 126,000 Computer Science and STEM careers in Arkansas.
The state of Arkansas, through the Arkansas Public School Resource Center, has made a bold move to lead the country in making this supplemental STEM career awareness system available at no cost to all middle schools in the state. The online technology, Learning Blade®, created by Thinking Media, introduces computer science and STEM careers to students in a unique format demonstrating the benefits in society. In collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), this system will include a new component focusing on computer science and cybersecurity careers.
You can view the video of the press conference here.
Mission LIFT from Learning Blade® Launching in Kentucky Middle Schools
Press Release from Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), February 26, 2016:
Program to bring lightweight materials and careers to life for students
Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), in partnership with Kentucky STEMx Network, Dataseam and the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, recently announced LIFT’s sponsorship of Learning Blade®’s Mission LIFT and Learning Blade full licenses in 30 Kentucky middle schools. Learning Blade is an online curriculum focused on increasing students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and motivating middle and high school students toward careers in advanced manufacturing.
“Manufacturing jobs are on the rise and early exposure to opportunities through programs like Learning Blade is essential to peak students’ interest in the field,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, Workforce and Education Director, LIFT. “LIFT is proud to sponsor this program for students in Kentucky and grow the state’s future manufacturing workforce.”
"Thanks to the LIFT partnership with the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and Kentucky STEMx as well as others, middle school students participating in Learning Blade modules in Kentucky schools are able to explore lightweighting methods, materials, and technologies used by welders, machinists, industrial designers and drafters, and engineers. Partnerships such as this one with LIFT assist Kentucky students in learning about STEM," said Dr. Eve Profitt, Director of Education Innovation and Kentucky STEMx Network.
This is a national investment by LIFT with early emphasis on LIFT’s five partner states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. The 30 Mission LIFT participating middle schools in Kentucky are located in Caldwell, Clay, Daviess, Fayette, Hancock, Jefferson, Madison, and Webster counties.
“Not every student can visit a manufacturing facility to learn about real world, authentic job opportunities that exist today and for which they can be ready tomorrow,” said David Helm, Secondary Instructional Specialist, Fayette County Public Schools, Lexington, KY. “Learning Blade is a perfect way to enhance our students’ knowledge of STEM principles and manufacturing careers using a digital platform, meeting young people where they are : online!" For more information on Mission LIFT in Kentucky and other LIFT education and workforce development initiatives, please visit www.lift.technology or contact LIFT Workforce & Education Director Emily DeRocco, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full press release can be seen
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