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 email@example.com.
The full press release can be seen here.
Learning Blade Increases STEM Awareness in Tennessee
February 12, 2016
The implementation of the Learning Blade system by the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) is off to a great start. See some of our progress and results here.
Learning Blade Tapped by Arkansas Governor for STEM Pilot
February 1, 2016
The State of Arkansas is creating a pilot program to utlize Learning Blade in curricula such as the middle school Career Orientation class. The Arkansas Public School Resource Center, which provides support to the state's rural school districts and charter schools, is using a grant from Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office to enable as many as 30 schools to try out Learning Blade at no cost, said Barbara Hunter Cox, the center's director of teaching and learning.
For more information, click here.
Tennessee Manufacturers' Initiative Includes Learning Blade to Increase Pipeline
January 26, 2016
Innovate+Educate, in partnership with Alcoa Foundation, on Monday announced the launch of Tennessee Manufacturers Works in order to create workforce practices that encorporate credentials-based hiring practices for advanced manufacturing jobs. The program has tapped the experience of Thinking Media's staff in standards-based education, and seeks to utilize Learning Blade as an introductory element for STEM career pathways.
For more information, click here.
Tennessee Education Officials Visit Learning Blade Sites
December 15, 2015
Dr. Airhart discusses the Learning Blade curriculum with students.
Dr. Kathleen Airhart, Deputy Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Education, and other state and local officials visited schools in Chattanooga, TN using the Learning Blade system. Learning Blade has been adopted by the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network for middle schools across Tennessee to improve awareness and preparation for STEM careers.
The visit included classrooms at Ooltewah Middle School and Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy. Airhart said there's "a great need" by companies in Tennessee for people with STEM skills. She likes the individualized approach used by Learning Blade. "All the kids are very engaged," she said as the Ooltewah students each worked on their own computers, adding that a "personalized learning task force" is slated to convene soon at the state level. Students stated that "I like that it teaches you more about science, social studies and reading."
Ooltewah Middle Principal Chrissy Easterly said students rotate through Learning Blade and classes are kept at fewer than 20 youngsters. "They work at their own level," she said.
Wes Hall, the director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, said getting middle school-age students interested in the fields is a key. Students who are reached in middle school take that interest with them to high school, he said.
Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy Students Design their Own Mission
Students at CGLA love using Learning Blade so much so that they copied the Learning Blade strategy of understanding a topic as it relates to STEM careers and STEM technologies and designed their own mission. CGLA 7th grade students, as part of a PBL unit that involved an interdisciplinary team teaching approach, designed their own unique Learning Blade “Mission to Everest.” Students researched the TOOLS and TEAMMATES needed to accomplish a mission to climb Mount Everest. While all the teams had great projects, alas only one could make it to the summit.
Click here to see a larger image and also the runner-up design!
Congratulations to all students who participated in this project!
Tennessee Leads the Nation in Making STEM Curriculum available to ALL
October 7, 2015
TSIN team of Joshua Sneideman, Dane Boyington, and Sheila Boyington of Learning Blade, Aimee Kennedy of Battelle Education, and Wes Hall of TSIN at the launch of the STEM curriculum project.
The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, through legislative support, has made a bold move leading the country in 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 in a unique format demonstrating the benefits of STEM careers for society. STEM careers in Tennessee are expected to grow 16% 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.
Learning Blade’s effective technology has proven to increase interest in STEM careers with over 70% of participating students indicating that they learn about new careers and inspiring over 35% to be more likely to consider STEM as a future career. In the first month over 25% of middle schools in TN 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 included.
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 city. Learning Blade also provides teachers with valuable feedback on student skills, demonstrating the relevance of academics in real life.
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.
“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," said Wes Hall, Director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network.
Schools nationwide have successfully used this 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.”’
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, visit www.tsin.org/learningblade
The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network is a public-private partnership between the Tennessee Department of Education and Battelle Education, emphasizing a “kindergarten through jobs” philosophy by promoting the teaching and learning of STEM education in K-12 public schools across Tennessee.
ABOUT LEARNING BLADE®
Learning Blade®, owned and operated by Chattanooga-based Thinking Media, creators of ACT’s KeyTrain®, is designed to provide engaging resources that will expose students to STEM related career opportunities while reviewing academics. @LearningBlade
Learning Blade Grows Across the Nation
October 5, 2015
In 2015 Learning Blade is excited to announce our exponential growth. Why? Our technology has so many new adopters because it is filling a very real need in education. Teachers for 100 years have heard students ask them the question, “When will I ever use this?” Learning Blade answers the age old question while applying both Math and ELA standards to all their lessons. Learning Blade has been proven to both improve knowledge and interest in STEM while simultaneously improving reading and math skills.
The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) has been providing support to TN schools in STEM for several years. One of their goals is Increasing STEM Interest for ALL Tennessee Students. This year they turned to Learning Blade® to assist in increasing student interest and achievement in STEM. By making Learning Blade® available, at no cost to all middle schools in the state of Tennessee, TSIN hopes to introduce STEM opportunities to students in a novel format that demonstrates the benefits and roles of the careers in society. The added benefit of the Learning Blade platform is it also demonstrates the relevance of academic skills to STEM careers and provides real-world examples of the use of math and ELA skills in practical situations. We have engaged with the following partners in the statewide implementation.
The U.S. Department of Energy, Minorities in Energy Initiative (MIE) seeks to increase awareness and engagement of diverse Americans in the energy sector through a focus on: STEM education, Workforce development, Energy economic development and Climate change objectives. To that end MIE is providing Learning Blade to DC middle school students to help them “See Their Future in STEM.” STEM jobs are some of the best career opportunities for students in the DC area, yet most students are not interested or prepared for them. Studies show that the major reason that middle school students do not follow a STEM path is lack of awareness of the variety of STEM careers. The Department of Energy is changing all that by making available at no cost Learning Blade’s effective supplemental online STEM career awareness program to all DC middle schools.
The Lightweight Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) consortium is using Learning Blade to support KY schools developing STEM career awareness, particularly an educated and skilled workforce knowledgeable of the light weighting technologies and processes. LIFT is an industry-led, government-funded consortium that is reimagining processes and procedures to facilitate technology transfer into supply chain companies and empowering the lightweight metals workforce. LIFT believes using Learning Blade will aid in their goal to help the continuum of education and training that must be available in communities and states seeking to sustain, grow, and attract manufacturing jobs in their economy.
In Rocket City, Huntsville Alabama, one visionary school leader immediately saw the benefit of using Learning Blade for their Career Academy Program. It was then implemented district-wide. Learning Blade staff immediately traveled to Huntsville to provide an in-person training to the motivated staff. Within five minutes of experiencing Learning Blade as a student, teachers were hooked.
New Express Missions and Mission Challenges
The Learning Blade Staff RESPONDS. We heard our user’s requests for “Express Missions” that students could complete in shorter periods of time. You asked and Learning Blade delivers. NOW all missions also come in a new compact size “Express Missions” that take less than 3 hours to complete.
Based on feedback received from educators, the Learning Blade team aso created “Mission Challenges” which promotes dynamic problem-solving skills. Mission Challenge exercises create situations for students to take what they’ve observed from the industry careers showcased in Learning Blade missions and begin to solve similar problems for themselves. These in-class exercises are designed for both individual instruction and group learning.
• Mission Challenge - Automotive Manufacturing
• Mission Challenge - Dolphin Rescue
• Mission Challenge - Energy
• Mission Challenge - Entrepreneurship
• Mission Challenge - Flu Outbreak
• Mission Challenge - Fresh Food
• Mission Challenge - Haiti Orphanage
• Mission Challenge - Heart Surgery
• Mission Challenge – Robotics
• Mission Challenge – Transportation
Girls Inc STEMposium Saturday, April 18
April 13, 2015
Girl's Inc. of Chattanooga will hold a one day STEMposium conference for girls ages 12-18 on Saturday, April 18. The STEMposium is for girls who are interested in all things science, technology, engineering, and math. The event includes keynote speakers, hands-on workshops, a Lunch and Learn session, and opportunities to talk to local college. Everyone who attends gets to choose her workshop topics: medicine and biotechnology, zoology and veterinary medicine, engineering and architecture, finance, environmental science and sustainability, coding and digital media, chemistry, and 3d printing. The STEMposium will be on April 18th, 2015 from 8:30 to 1:30pm at Chattanooga State in the Albright Omniplex Building. This event is completely free to attend and includes lunch, a STEMposium t-shirt, and a raffle ticket for cool prizes. Space at the STEMposium is limited to just 80 girls, so girls who are interested should sign up today!
Learning Blade founder, Sheila Boyington, will be participating, giving a talk on the state of women in STEM and what the Tennessee Valley is doing to bring more women into STEM.
Registering is easy: just visit http://stemposium.webs.com and fill out a short form. Paper registration forms are also available at the Girls Inc. of Chattanooga office at 709 South Greenwood Avenue.
Girls Inc. is also looking for a few more volunteers to help out at the STEMposium. Volunteers can assist during hands-on workshops, be a part of the Lunch and Learn session, and keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. Interested volunteers can call the Girls Inc. office at 423-624-4757, or visit http://stemposium.webs.com/get-involved.
Girls Inc. of Chattanooga has been encouraging girls to be Strong, Smart, and Boldsm for 54 years. Please take some time to promote the STEMposium within your network.
Tennessee to Celebrate Women’s History Month and Pass Women in STEM Resolution
March 13, 2015
March is Women’s History Month, and history tells us that women earn only around 77% of the salary of men in the same positions. History also tells us the national average of applicants vs jobs is over 4 job seekers for every 1 job. But what if there was a field where jobs were so plentiful that there were more than twice as many available jobs as applicants, and that historically paid higher than other fields? In STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – this is a reality and this Tuesday, March 17, the Tennessee Legislature will be passing a State Resolution encouraging more women to study and work in these STEM fields. In these fields women earn 92% of the salary of men.
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey will join with Speaker of the House Beth Harwell on Tuesday, March 17th from 10am to 11am Central at the State Capitol Senate Chamber in Nashville to recognize and commend the hard working women of Tennessee who work and study in STEM fields. The event, sponsored by Million Women Mentors and over a dozen Tennessee businesses and organizations, will be the first of its kind to honor both women in STEM and Women’s History Month with a State Resolution.
Despite the tremendous gains that girls and women have made in education and the workforce during the past 50 years, progress has been uneven and certain scientific and engineering fields remain overwhelmingly male,” said Sheila Boyington, Senior Advisor for Million Women Mentors and President of Chattanooga-based Thinking Media. “Women are about 50% of the national workforce but they are only 24% of the STEM workforce. It is so important that we make STEM education a top priority for Tennessee to address the STEM workforce shortage, and to help close the gap between women and men in these high paying fields,” said Boyington.
The U.S. is facing an increasing shortage in the STEM workforce. Employment in STEM is expected to grow 17 % by 2018, while the number of college graduates in STEM fields continues to decline. A constant supply of well-trained STEM workers is essential to meeting the workforce needs in Tennessee. In 2009, just 18 % of bachelor’s degrees awarded were in STEM fields, down 24 % from two decades ago, particularly for women.
Besides the obvious reasons why women should major in STEM, the economic implications based on pay are profound.
The nationally launched Million Women Mentors® effort is growing in Tennessee to use mentoring as an avenue to engage women and girls in STEM careers. The goal of the movement is to garner one million mentors in STEM professions over the next several years, to collectively increase the interest and confidence of girls and women in these academic areas. Approximately 30 states are commitment to this effort. Each mentor will commit to a minimum of 20 hours and the initiative has five suggested mentor pathways with a robust portal that will capture and amplify the numbers who are working on this effort.
About Million Women Mentors®: Launched on January 8th ,2014, MWM is the collective action of over national partners and corporate sponsors designed to increase the number of girls and women within the high school to work age continuum that persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers. For more information on MWM please visit www.MillionWomenMentors.org.
About STEMconnector®: STEMconnector®is a consortium of over 110 companies, associations, academic institutions and government entities concerned with STEM education and the future of human capital. STEMconnector® focuses on the STEM workforce and jobs, with a particular emphasis on diversity and women. Our work spans the entire pipeline (K-J—Kindergarten to Jobs) and how STEM education experiences translate into careers. For more information, visit STEMconnector.org
DAR Community Service medal awarded to Learning Blade's Sheila Boyington
March 12, 2015
"In a surprise presentation on Tuesday during Chattanooga’s Groundbreaking Women’s Symposium, the Chief John Ross Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored Sheila Boyington with the DAR Community Service Medal." Read more about the award here.
STEM Trends by Learning Blade President
February 27, 2015
Learning Blade President, Sheila Boyington, recently contributed to the American Diversity Report. She explores the STEM shortage in the US and reasons why women should pursue STEM careers. To read the article, please visit the American Diversity Report, here.
Using Learning Blade in the Classroom
February 25, 2015
Check out the video of Middle School students demonstrating how Learning Blade can be used in conjunction with a class project on dinosaurs and fossils. The teacher assigned the "Climate Change" activity from the Energy Mission, then had students work on this single lesson in class. The teacher created a single page question and answer sheet that integrated climate change with dinosaur history, had students answer questions on concepts from the online lesson, and also asked the student to reflect on observations in their local area weather and geography that connect to climate change.
Learning Blade at the forefront of promoting women in STEM
February 17, 2015
Learning Blade President, Sheila Boyington, was a central focus of a recent article about efforts to draw more women into STEM industries. From the Nogga.com article:
"We’re going the wrong direction," engineer Sheila Boyington said, discussing efforts to get more girls interested in entering STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. "Studies show about 23 percent were going for science and engineering in 2004, and in 2014, it’s down to 18 percent."
Click here to read the entire article.
Learning Blade User Testimonials
February 2, 2015
See how students, parents and school administrators see the value in increasing STEM awareness and academic skills in today's middle schools.
Check out the video on our You Tube channel here.
Learning Blade Featured In National STEM Report
November 21, 2014
ACT, Inc. has just released their 2014 "Condition of STEM" report, summarizing key data from nearly 900,000 high-school graduates nationwide. The report examines the graduates' interest in STEM careers and academic achievement for the nation and for individual states.
While nearly half of the graduates had some type of interest in STEM careers, around one half of those (or nearly a quarter of the entire student population) had indicated a STEM career as a possible path, but did not display an inherent interest in STEM in further questioning. Another 17 percent indicated interest in STEM topics, but did not select a STEM career for a future path. This data indicates a continuing confusion about the type of work involved in STEM careers, said officials.
The data also shows that students who have expressed an interest in STEM are unprepared for success in these areas, said officials. Only 50 percent meet ACT's benchmarks for college preparedness in math, and 43 percent in science. Among students who intend to follow two- year technical degrees the numbers lower, less than 25 percent.
ACT has chosen to include Chattanooga-based Thinking Media's Learning Blade in a short list of resources suggested by STEM experts.
Learning Blade is designed to be a component of the national STEM solution. The online platform is designed to introduce middle school students to STEM careers, and to integrate and relate these careers to the academic subjects and standards actually taught in these grades. As is noted middle school is the time when students are making decisions that lead to their potential careers.
Hamilton County Commission approved funding to implement Learning Blade in the local middle schools. Schools are using the system to expose more students to STEM careers. Learning Blade has schools currently in 19 states after being fully launched about one year ago.
Review the report and state-by-state results:
Success Stories from the 2013-14 School Year
September 5, 2014
Learning Blade has completed its first full school year of use and we have some excellent results and status to share:
1. Used in 10 States in the past school year
2. Over 80,000 lessons completed by students
3. Posted gains in Literacy as demonstrated in Lexile Reading scores
4. Decreased students being retained in a grade
5. Increased Science test scores on state standardized tests
6. Secured funding from companies to support Learning Blade in schools
7. Presented and displayed at 9 national and state conferences this past year
8. All-girl schools completed lessons at the same rate as mixed-gender schools
9. Added New Progress Stars to log internal lesson progress
10. Expanding to 19 states this fall
Learning Blade is rapidly increasing its presence in schools all across the U.S. In our pilot year we had a presence in 5 states, which increased to 10 states in the 2013-14 school year. This year we expect to be in 19 states including presence in large school districts, Chicago Public Schools and Hillsborough County, FL Schools.
Students have now completed over 80,000 lessons in Learning Blade, and we are hearing success stories from our customers. Our primary objective is to increase STEM career awareness and self-efficacy, but some schools are also attributing Learning Blade as a major factor in their academic success.
In one rural high school, Learning Blade was specifically targeted at 170 at-risk students in an 18-week 9th-grade career awareness course in order to increase academic engagement. The result was that the percentage of all students that were retained in the 9th grade dropped by 8% (a 24% reduction in the number of students retained). In addition the Lexile reading scores of the students increased significantly.
Another urban, mostly-minority all-girls middle school demonstrated a 50% improvement in students scoring at proficient or advanced levels on the state standardized science tests. Teachers stated that for low-performing students Learning Blade created a mental model that helped them to connect to what was being taught in the classroom lectures. This contributed to the school being named a “Reward School” for Tennessee.
This evidence validates the Learning Blade foundational concept that STEM career awareness coupled with repeated practice of English and math skills in the contexts of these careers can make academic subjects more relevant for students, thereby increasing their engagement in school.
Check out what some of our customers have to say about Learning Blade:
• School Principal describing increased test scores with Learning Blade
• Instructor describing student engagement with Learning Blade
Learning Blade Leadership Become STEM Advisors
May 1, 2014
Learning Blade Leadership, Sheila Boyington, President of Thinking Media (owner of Learning Blade) and Dr. Dane Boyington, CTO of Thinking Media are serving as senior advisors to STEMconnector®. STEMconnector® is a consortium of companies, nonprofit associations and professional societies, STEM-related research & policy organizations, government entities, universities and academic institutions concerned with STEM education and the future of human capital in the United States. STEMconnector® is both a resource and a service, designed to link "all things STEM".
Learning Blade is providing guidance to several initiatives of STEMconnector including those listed below. For more info about either of these or other STEMconnector efforts please sign up for the STEMDaily – the most comprehensive daily news feed on STEM nationally - here.
Million Women Mentors®
MWM is designed to promote the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) mentors to increase the number of girls in STEM throughout the United States. Sheila Boyington, President of Thinking Media/Learning Blade is serving as the lead in developing state strategy for the national initiative. Dr. Dane Boyington, CTO is providing design and guidance for the technical aspects of the website to provide a resource to those registering to serve as mentors. Sign up to be a mentor today – www.millionwomenmentors.org
Learning Blade Receives Validation from BattelleEd
January 7, 2014
BattelleEd, a venture of Battelle, manages STEM networks and the national STEMx network designed to share best practices for STEM Education. The efforts are led by President Aimee Kennedy shown here with Dr. Dane and Sheila Boyington, Learning Blade creators.
BattelleEd brings together innovative educators, leading STEM advocates, and policy makers to create education solutions that will foster America's next generation of innovators. As part of this BattelleEd has an agreement with Learning Blade to provide review and validation of the system.
Based on the Learning Blade pilots and interviews with sites in several states, BattelleEd released the following validation:
Learning Blade has been validated as a supplemental tool for increasing STEM career awareness and interest by BattelleEd.
Data has shown that the majority of students do not follow paths that lead to STEM due to a lack of awareness and interest in STEM careers. New strategies are desperately needed to change this on a larger scale. Tools like Learning Blade are a great way to engage more students in the STEM space - particularly at the critical time when they are making their career pathways.
Learning Blade Gains Support by US Synthetic for Utah Schools
December 2, 2013
US Synthetic has provided grants to implement Learning Blade in Provo, Utah schools to encourage the next generation of STEM workers. Learning Blade is also collaborating with BattelleEd to expand its use across the country and is pleased to announce that “Learning Blade has been validated as a supplemental tool for increasing STEM career awareness and interest by BattelleEd.” Other organizations are exploring this innovative tool to expose students to STEM careers and gain interest in these growing careers. Learning Blade is a high quality supplemental curriculum that is focused on offering students real world learning experiences in STEM education. It does this by providing student-ready, interactive missions that integrate the processes of developing a student’s interest in STEM, build awareness of STEM career opportunities, and reinforce Common Core academic skills.
“At US Synthetic, we are committed to our customers’ success. We enable this success by making clearly superior diamond products and by demonstrating excellence in many areas. US Synthetic is a family-oriented company with a unique culture that fosters innovation, service, and quality. As a prospective employer of those in our current school system and an involved community partner, US Synthetic discovered Learning Blade and found this tool to be an excellent method for introducing STEM careers to our area students. US Synthetic’s support of Learning Blade in local schools illustrates the type of culture our company and our employees have worked hard to develop over the years. As part of our Engineering Good initiative, US Synthetic is proud to help those in our community and around the world; and supporting Learning Blade is just one such instance. We encourage further use of this tool.” Troy Holmberg, Director of Engineering Good (Corporate social responsibility) at US Synthetic.
Baldwin High School Named Finalist for Best Use of Technology in the Classroom
September 10, 2013
The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), the state’s leading association dedicated to the promotion and economic advancement of Georgia’s technology industry, announced that Baldwin High School has been named as a Finalist in the Best Use of Technology in the Classroom category for the 2013 Georgia STEM Education Awards.
The Georgia STEM Education Awards recognizes schools, programs, and companies for outstanding efforts and achievements in supporting and promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education in Georgia.
Baldwin High School’s use of Learning Blade is the center of the award. Baldwin targets deficiencies among academically at-risk 9th grade students with a Freshman Focus curriculum. In the 2012/2013 school year, BHS incorporated Learning Blade into the Freshman Focus curriculum. Learning Blade is a unique student-ready web-based system integrating academic skills with building interest in STEM and STEM careers. The activities allow STEM Integration in English, math, social studies, and science while addressing critical Common Core standards. Results included increasing students’ knowledge and interest in STEM Careers by up to 72%.
Engaging and motivating academically at-risk students in STEM education through Learning Blade will lead to increased productivity and ultimately an increase in graduation rate. By increasing the graduation rate, Baldwin High believes they will produce more college and career ready graduates for the community and the State.
“My proudest achievement was seeing academically at-risk and struggling students getting excited about learning. By using Learning Blade, students were motivated to complete missions and along the way they learned about STEM careers, technology, math, and English. Over 70% of the students in the program preferred using Learning Blade than traditional homework. By engaging and motivating students, and allowing them to experience academic success through this innovative online learning platform, students who would otherwise be considered at-risk of dropping out of school are now excited and motivated to learn. “ – Dr. Jeremy Dockery - Assistant Principal, Baldwin County High School
Baldwin High School was named a finalist during a special press conference telecast presented by TAG in collaboration with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and the STEM Education Awards broadcast sponsors, Cisco Systems Inc. and the US Department of Commerce- Economic Development Association.
“It was truly a challenge for our judges to select the 2013 finalists from among more than 170 applicants from around Georgia,” said Michael Robertson, Executive Director of TAG Education Collaborative. “We must continue building a wave of activities that will prepare our students for the global workforce they will inherit, and we hope recognizing these organizations and their programs will raise awareness on the importance of STEM education for our state's economic future.”
Learning Blade pilot sites demonstrate value for STEM education
June 18, 2013
Thinking Media has worked with six sites in five different states to conduct a pilot study of the Learning Blade STEM education system. The pilots demonstrated that the Learning Blade mission game-based format is useful for both increasing STEM awareness and self-efficacy and also as a tool for practicing Common Core skills.
Students responded that:
- 72% learned something about new careers
- 76% learned something about technology
- 61% and 54% learned something about math and English, respectively
- 71% would rather use Learning Blade than do traditional homework
Additional results revealed that math and reading exercises which were designed according to Common Core standards where challenging to the students. Nonetheless, students maintained a positive attitude, saying that they felt that they could answer most questions correctly.
The results indicate that the system achieved the goals of improving student awareness of STEM technologies and careers while also providing meaningful practice of academic skills that was more entertaining to students than traditional homework.
Learning Blade announces collaboration with BattelleEd
June 18, 2013
To accelerate the adoption of Learning Blade, Thinking Media is collaborating with BattelleEd, a subsidiary of Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. BattelleEd is a solutions station for STEM education innovation, composed of integration networks and an innovation lab. In this collaboration BattelleEd is conducting validation studies and will develop best practices for the adoption of the Learning Blade system into schools nationwide.
The Battelle STEM Innovation Lab is working to identify and bring to scale new, high-quality STEM education tools such as Learning Blade. These tools can be implemented and spread through STEMx network.
Learning Blade training program helps middle schoolers learn about STEM careers
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
by Dave Flessner
From rescuing an injured Dolphin to helping an orphanage in Haiti, middle school students enrolled in a new online training program quickly learn the value and fun of work in science, math and engineering.
Chattanooga entrepreneurs Dane and Sheila Boyington, both chemical engineers who previously developed a successful vocational testing and training program, launched a new web-based toolkit Monday they believe could address America's deficiency in science, technology, engineering and math -- the so-called STEM courses.
The new online program known as the Learning Blade provides an entertaining, game-based format to entice students to pursue "missions" to solve challenges using both reading and science skills. In the process, program developers hope to both teach and excite more young people into engineering and technical studies and vocations where the United States is losing its once-dominant lead in the world.
"This has always been a passion for us so we're excited about investing our time and money in this venture," said Sheila Boyington, co-founder of Thinking Media in Chattanooga. "We chose to begin our work at the middle school age, when students are most likely to develop preferences about technology and their future career paths."
Check out TV coverage:
STEMtech – Kansas City
The leadership of Learning Blade recently attended the League of Innovation's STEMtech conference in Kansas City, MO. The STEMtech conference is an annual convening that emphasizes increasing student success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at all levels. Over 400 sessions focused on improving STEM education, better aligning educational systems with each other and local workforce needs, and exploring technology's role in the teaching and learning processes.
We engaged college and university faculty members, K-12 teachers, administrators, government officials, community and business/industry representatives, and others in discussions on STEM education, information technology, research and best practices. Sessions included strategies for improving math skills in middle schoolers, hosting family science nights, project-based learning activities, and engaging businesses in STEM activities.
The sessions were engaging and interesting for those working in the STEM space, particularly those involved in education. It was concluded that a tool such as Learning Blade is needed in this community.