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Learning Blade in the Classroom

Why Use Learning Blade?

Careers in the high-demand STEM industries provide solid career opportunities for today’s youth, with higher job growth and higher salaries than competing careers, even for jobs requiring only two-year degrees or technical training. However, most students do not understand the variety of careers that are available.  Additionally, a study from University of Massachusetts indicated that middle school is the critical time that students are deciding on their career path.

Research has shown that the most common reason students do not pursue specific STEM careers is a lack of awareness of career paths. A recent survey by Emerson showed that 42% of adults say that they would have considered STEM courses if they had better understood the career pathways. More students could benefit from exposure to STEM topics and careers at a younger age, when they are still forming their opinions on careers and job opportunities.

In addition, understanding the benefits and requirements for getting a good job helps to set goals that students can understand and work towards. This is especially important for STEM careers, where students need both good English language and math skills to be successful in the educational pathway to these jobs.

Learning Blade fills these needs by introducing students to over 100 STEM careers and technologies, and demonstrating the relevance of basic academic ELA and math skills to these technologies and careers.

Through an easy-to-use, interactive online platform, Learning Blade:

• Introduces students to STEM careers and technologies
• Is a proven technology to increase student interest in STEM
• Collects data that helps you evaluate student performance on standards
• Allows for student choice and self-paced learning
• Demonstrates and practices academic skills in the context of the careers and technologies
• Provides context and relevance for academics being taught in the classroom


Attracting Diverse Students to STEM Careers

Today’s students, including girls and minorities, want careers where they can make an impact in society. Girls in particular want careers where they can help people. But many STEM programs present science as a purely technical subject. That is why Learning Blade approaches STEM careers in the form of 12 different missions. These missions focus on solving societal problems such as helping homeless children after an earthquake or healing an injured dolphin. Only then does Learning Blade demonstrate that STEM careers are the answers to these human problems.

Additionally, rural students often suffer from a lack of adequate STEM role models in their communities, or from the inability of local schools to demonstrate a wide variety of careers to their students. Learning Blade makes it easy to introduce over 100 careers and technologies to students using only a computer and Internet connection.

The table below shows the variety of missions that can attract a wide variety of students to STEM careers.

Mission

Description

Career Clusters

Dolphin Rescue

Help rescue rehabilitate an injured dolphin, including creating an artificial prosthetic tail

Biomedicine, Marine Science

Energy Sources

Evaluate alternative or upgraded energy sources for a city that currently has an old coal-fired power plant

Energy Production, Environment

Entrepreneurship

Set up a new business with a focus on entrepreneurship

Finance, Business

Flu Outbreak

How health and IT professionals can use data warehousing and analysis to predict flu outbreaks using GIS and social media data

Information Technology

Fresh Food

Consider methods to increase production of local foods in a community

Agriculture

Hack Attack

Learn about methods to create and protect website, apps and social media after a school’s website and media are hacked

Computer Science

Haiti Orphanage

Design and build an environmentally-sound orphanage for children left homeless by an earthquake in Haiti

Construction, Sustainability

Heart Surgery

Conduct heart surgery and therapy for a child with a heart defect; evaluate the use of artificial hearts or heart components

Medicine

Lightweight Aircraft

Design a lightweight and easily maintained aircraft for distant missions

Lightweight Metals Manufacturing

Manufacturing Concept

Use modern manufacturing techniques to design and build a new concept car

Advanced Manufacturing

Rescue Robot

Explore technology used for robotics design, such as sensors, electrical circuits, industrial design and computers

Electronics, Computer Science

Transportation Congestion

Evaluate new transportation methods for a city that has a traffic congestion problem

Transportation


In addition to the online components, we provide classroom-based activities for simple corresponding hands-on projects and 3D printing activities that integrate the science concepts from the missions. We have parent activities in order to stimulate discussion of careers at home. (see details below).


Integrating Learning Blade in the Classroom

Learning Blade online lessons are each approximately 10-15 minutes long, and presented in the context of science, math, English and social studies. Each lesson is aligned to state and national academic standards, and includes a full sound track to aid those students with low reading levels. Students can use the curriculum in the form of the 12 missions above, or teachers can assign individual lessons based upon the desired career or academic standard to be practiced.
These qualities make it easy to implement Learning Blade in a variety of settings.  The full-length version of each Learning Blade Mission has over 8 hours of STEM curriculum which is good for longer engagement projects. An Express length of each mission contains a selection of lessons that take less than 2 hours to complete.

Because the individual lessons are short, self-contained, and interdisciplinary, they can be used in nearly any classroom and in any time that is available in school, after school or at home.
Some strategies for incorporating Learning Blade in the classroom include:

• Enrichment Exercises
• Class Bell Ringer
• Before/After Field Trip or Speaker Visit
• End of Class Wrap Up
• Gifted and Talented Program
• Standards Based Lesson Planning
• Homework
• Student Differentiation
• Open Exploration, Student Choice
• RTI (Response to Instruction)

Learning Blade also provides gamification aspects. Students, classes and teams can compete on a virtual leaderboard for the highest score in each of the missions. Online teams encourage students to work together to achieve the highest possible score.

Additional Resources

Learning Blade also has a host of offline activities and lesson plans to supplement our STEM learning.   There are STEM4Parent lessons, which can be used to help parents and students engage around STEM topics. We offer Mission Challenges, which are hands on design engineering and open ended questions designed to engage students in engineering and scientific exploration and writing about STEM learning.   Learning Blade also has some wonderfully designed 3D Maker Quests using 3D printing files and lessons plans for classrooms with these printers.

See additional implementation ideas and resources here.


Monitoring Progress and Metrics

Learning Blade makes it easy to report on student progress and metrics. It includes a full online Learning Management System.  With this system:

• Every student has a unique login and their progress is tracked
• Teachers can evaluate student academic performance
• Teachers can do an in-depth analysis of student performance compared to academic standards.

The system records the time and score for each lesson for each student. In addition, student responses to individual questions is also recorded. Therefore built-in reports provide:

• Student and class totals for number of missions, careers and lessons completed with scores and times
• Student and class performance against individual academic standards based on individual question answers



Interdisciplinary Design and Teaching

Learning Blade is an interdisciplinary designed curriculum.  We believe that when we break down the silos of learning and show students that academics connect across curriculum, students feel more engaged and deeper connections and understandings are achieved.  To that end, there are lessons in math, science, English, and social studies for each of the 100 STEM careers and technologies in Learning Blade.

For instance, while science and math lessons demonstrate how these skills are used in the performance of STEM activities, English lessons may demonstrate that good language skills are necessary to perform well in STEM jobs in actual businesses, and social studies lessons may focus on the history of the development of the technologies and careers.

Grade level teams can complete a mission together, as one class focusses on the math lessons in a particular mission, other teachers can tackle their Learning Blade subject area lessons.  In some states, Learning Blade is used in RTI (Response to Instruction) time, to help students reinforce academics in a multidisciplinary setting that highlights career paths. 


Ongoing Funding

Learning Blade is provided on a site-license basis, meaning that for one price the school has access to all components for the system for all students in the school. District licenses and multiple sites can receive discounts off of the single site pricing.
Because of the low cost, schools can fund ongoing use of Learning Blade by various means:
• Local business partners, as Learning Blade helps highlight pathways to careers
• School PTA fundraiser
• Perkins/Career Technical Education Funds

Learning Blade can assist schools with professional development and technical support for subscribing schools. Please email info@learningblade.com for any additional questions or to schedule a demonstration.